Post-coital Tristesse — Word Count: 18,041

“That’s impossible!” Elizabeth cried, throwing off her Snuggie. It slid to the floor and landed in a sleeved heap. “Bruce is my new BFF. I mean, sure, he may get a little handsy every now and then, but he’s certainly not a rapist!”

“Date rapist,” Jessica said, correcting her twin for once. “He at least has the decency to get a girl good and drunk or otherwise impaired beforehand.”

“Police have also declined to speak further about the case,” Amy continued. “They have, however, referred all questions about the Sweet Valley date rapist to a ragtag bunch of 16-year-olds with an uncanny ability to solve crimes and a shocking lack of parental supervision.”

Elizabeth shook her head angrily as Amy concluded her report.

“For Sweet Valley Action News, I’m Amy Sutton. Token Sweet Valley High Character We Don’t Give a Shit About But Who Inexplicably Became a News Anchor, back to you.”

“Thanks, Amy,” Jeffrey French said as the camera cut back to him. “Coming up: A look at your local forecast, which as we all know will be sunny and perfect, but first, our nightly check of the Wakefield twins’ bowel movements and a special report on why Elizabeth doesn’t love me anymore.”

Elizabeth turned off the television and violently threw down the remote. She began to pace.

“This is impossible,” she growled, pounding her fist into her hand as she walked back and forth. “Bruce may be a lot of things — arrogant, dumb and a bad driver — but he’s not a date rapist!”

“You pretty much already said that exact same thing,” Jessica pointed out as she angled the ice cream carton and began to scrape the bottom of it.

“And what shoddy journalism!” Elizabeth exploded. “An unnamed source? WTF is that?”

“What the fuck is WTF?” Jessica asked.

“It’s a good thing I’m Bruce’s new public relations director,” Elizabeth spat. “It looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me. And my first order of business is to clear Bruce’s name.”

* * *

Jessica reclined on a pool float, relaxing in the cool water at Lila Crest. “Elizabeth seems to think he’s innocent,” she said, shrugging. “But you know how Elizabeth is. She always gives people the benefit of the doubt.”

“She’s such a loser,” Lila said, dangling her feet in the water. “Besides, we all know Bruce did it.”

“Oh yeah, totally,” Jessica agreed.

“Ugh, just because the Patmans are old money, it doesn’t mean they’re classy,” Lila said. “Speaking of old money, I guess Stan stood you up, huh?”

Jessica laughed. “Where did you hear that one, Lila?”

“I have my sources,” Lila said mysteriously.

“Seriously, that Caroline Pearce chick is still around?” Jessica asked.

Lila scoffed. “Caroline? I haven’t seen her in years,” she said.

“Well, your sources are wrong,” Jessica said, flipping onto her stomach and sticking her ass up in the air. “Marshall the fifth and I had a wonderful date.”

Lila pursed her lips. “You did what?”

“We had a wonderful date,” Jessica answered. “Oh, and Elizabeth was there.”

“Why was Elizabeth there?” Lila asked curtly.

“Threesome. Duh,” Jessica said.

Lila let out a long, exasperated breath. “You have got to be kidding me.”

Jessica looked over her shoulder and gave Lila a grin. Her smile quickly turned to a grimace. “Ugh, Lila, what is that smell?”

Lila sniffed the air. “Oh, disgusting,” she said. “Lucinda! Lucinda! We need a diaper change out here!”

Lila’s maid stepped out onto the patio and wheeled Marshall inside.

“There,” Lila said smugly. “You see what you have to look forward to if you and Stan—”

“Marshall the fifth,” Jessica interjected.

“Stan,” Lila repeated. “If you and Stan continue dating.”

Jessica wrinkled her nose and studied her reflection in the water. “Marshall the fifth isn’t that old,” she said sullenly. “He won’t need diapers anytime soon.”

Lila dropped her voice. “I’ll be honest with you, Jess,” she said. “Dating an old man is completely disgusting.”

“Really?” Jessica asked, floating over to her friend.

“Really,” Lila confirmed in a conspiratorial whisper. “It’s not just the diaper thing, either. Sometimes, he can’t get it up.”

Jessica laughed loudly. “Oh, yeah, right,” she said. “All men can always get it up.”

“Jessica, you know that can’t possibly be true,” Lila said.

“It’s true for me,” Jessica said. “I’m Jessica fucking Wakefield!”

* * *

Todd mopped at a stubborn spot on the floor where someone had spilled a milkshake. Stupid fucking kids, he thought. We didn’t act this way when we were in high school. We just punched each other a lot.

Behind him, Todd heard the light tinkle of a bell as the door opened.

“We’re closed,” he said, without turning around.

“You’re closed? Even for me?” asked a playful voice behind him.

Todd turned and smiled. “Ken!” he exclaimed. “What are you doing here?”

“Just thought I’d stop by and say hello,” Ken said, walking up behind Todd and slipping his arms around Todd’s waist.

“Actually, would you mind walking me home?” Todd asked. “I’m a little freaked out by that awful Sweet Valley date rapist story. I really don’t want to get date raped.”

Ken let go of Todd and took a seat in the booth directly across from him. “Didn’t you see They have a suspect.”

“Oh, really?” Todd asked with interest, leaning on his mop.

“Yeah, and you’ll never guess who it is,” Ken said.

“Ooh, who is it?” Todd asked.

“Bruce Patman!” Ken whispered. “You should have seen the terrible police sketch they released of him. He’s actually pretty hot, but that sketch looked like a hot mess.”

Todd shook his head. “That really surprises me, Ken. He always seemed like such a nice guy.”

“And I’ve heard he’s been hanging around with Elizabeth Wakefield an awful lot lately,” Ken said.

Todd felt as if he’d been punched in the gut. He was certain he loved Ken, but he had once loved Elizabeth, and he didn’t want her to get date raped — least of all by the most handsome and most wealthy man in Sweet Valley.

“We have to warn Elizabeth!” Todd cried.

Ken placed a hand on Todd’s arm. “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Todd, but it’s probably already too late for Elizabeth,” he said softly.

“No,” Todd said, his voice cracking. “It can’t be too late.”

“What about the time in high school when you took her out on that motorcycle and she went into a coma and started acting all slutty and Patman touched her boob?” Ken said. “Elizabeth’s been ruined since then.”

“That was different,” Todd said vehemently, defending his onetime girlfriend. “She was acting like Jessica. She was practically asking for it.”

Ken stood up and swept Todd into his arms. “Everything will be all right,” he said, stroking Todd’s comb-over. “It’s going to be all right. Let’s get you home.”

* * *

Bruce stood with his back to Roger, looking out over his back patio and the expansive grounds of his estate beyond. The full moon filtered through the trees, giving them an eerie, backlit glow.

“I’m telling you, Roger, I didn’t do it,” he said, his voice tight.

“Are you sure?” Roger asked. “I mean, it doesn’t look good.”

“I’m sure,” Bruce snapped, turning around. “I’ve told you already. I’m not the Sweet Valley date rapist. That sketch doesn’t even look like me!”

Roger took another look at the police sketch he’d pulled up on his iPhone with the new app. It doesn’t really look like Bruce, Roger admitted to himself. If only Olivia were still alive to sketch the Sweet Valley date rapist!

“It is a little … amateur,” Roger finished. “Still, everyone’s reporting that the police are investigating you. We’ll have to work fast if we want to clear your name.”

Bruce fixed his cousin with an icy stare. “My name doesn’t need clearing,” he said. “It’s already clear.”

“I don’t know, Bruce,” Roger said slowly, trying to sound tactful. “You have a lot of past … indiscretions … you need to account for.”

“Like what? The fact that I like to bang slutty chicks? Since when is that a crime?” Bruce said, narrowing his eyes. “Don’t even bring that up, just because you haven’t figured out how to dickmatize every bitch you meet. I know you’re jealous.”

Roger shrugged. “It’s true. I haven’t gotten laid since 1996. I guess I didn’t inherit the Patman charm.”

“No, you didn’t,” Bruce snapped. “But what did I expect from the son of an assembly line worker?”

“Calm down, cousinbro,” Roger said softly, placing a hand on Bruce’s shoulder. Bruce shrugged him off, but Roger could tell he was finally letting down his guard. “Everything is going to be OK.”

“Can’t we just throw some money at this problem and hope it goes away?” Bruce asked glumly.

“We can — in a way,” Roger said slowly. “We can hire Ned Wakefield.”

“I guess,” Bruce said sullenly. “He’s the best criminal defense attorney in town. As long as you don’t let Steven Wakefield work on the case — I hate that douchebag.”

“Oh, come on,” Roger cajoled. “Steven’s an all right guy.”

Bruce paced around the living room, lost in thought. The police wouldn’t arrest the wealthiest, most influential man in town — would they? he questioned. I really don’t want to go back to jail — that night I spent in there after that big warehouse fight with the Palisades gang was bad enough. What do they do to date rapists in jail? ALLEGED date rapists, I mean! Alleged date rapists.

* * *

“This place has really gone downhill since it became a hipster hangout,” Enid muttered to herself as she dragged herself up onto a barstool at Kelly’s.

She eyed the other patrons with suspicion. Nothing but ironic trucker caps and indoor scarves — In the middle of summer! Enid thought — as far as the eye could see. The hipster kids really disgusted her, but Enid figured she could put up with it long enough to get a drink or two.

“Bartender,” she called, already starting to feel the hit of meth she’d injected in the parking lot. “Give me whatever you’ve got.”

The bartender sneered at her. “I’ve got lots of things, sweetheart,” he said. “What are you looking for? Boilermaker? PBR?”

Enid slumped across the bar, her face inches from his. “Something that will get me really fucked up,” she said.

The bartender nodded. “Coming right up,” he said. A few minutes later, he returned with a brightly colored aluminum can and popped the top, sliding it toward Enid. “Cheers.”

“Four Loko? What the fuck is this?” Enid asked. She took a tentative sip. It tasted like shit, but Enid downed it anyway.

“It’s a little something we like to call ‘blackout in a can,’” the bartender said, winking at her. He picked up a dirty-looking towel and wiped down the bar, keeping an eye on Enid the whole time.

“Awesome,” Enid said, tipping back her head and finishing off the can in one long gulp. “I’ll take another one.”

Enid felt a hand on her shoulder. “Enid Rollins? Is that you?”

She turned around and came face to face with a hipster d-bag. “Winston?”

He nodded nonchalantly and pulled out a pack of cigarettes, offering one to Enid. She pulled it out of the pack and waited for Winston to light it for her.

“What’s going on?” he asked, catching the bartender’s eye and nodding at him. The bartender reached behind the counter and slid a PBR over to Winston before handing Enid another blue raspberry Four Loko. Winston nodded toward the drink in Enid’s hand. “You planning on getting date raped tonight?”

“What does it matter?” Enid slurred. “Not like you care.”

Winston pretended to consider her words. “Eh, not really,” he said. “But I do know there’s a date rapist on the loose in Sweet Valley. Be careful out there.”

He patted her on the shoulder and walked away, casually strolling toward a tall brunette wearing a purple leopard-print shirt and hot pink legwarmers. Enid watched as Winston chatted her up. She couldn’t hear what they were saying to each other over the loud music playing in the bar, but Enid could see the girl was laughing. It seems that Winston Egbert has turned into quite the charmer, Enid thought drunkenly. What a fucking joke.

A voice cut into her thoughts. “Hey, there, sweetheart, what’s got you down?”

Enid turned her head slowly to follow the voice. Through her drunken haze, she could see that the man sitting next to her looked familiar, but she couldn’t place where she’d met him before. She shook her head, trying to clear away the fog that had wrapped itself around her brain.

“Do I — do I know you?” she slurred.

He laughed. “Well, we did go to high school together,” the man said. “Or at least, I think we did. I was way out of your league.”

Enid smiled and took a sip of her drink. She leaned against the bar for support, hoping it looked sexy. “Well, now I think we play for the same — the same team,” she finished with a loud hiccup.

He looked taken aback, but amused. “What’s that supposed to mean?” The man picked up his glass of scotch and took a sip.

“I don’t know what it means,” Enid said, pulling down her shirt to reveal more cleavage. “All I know is that I’m so drunk right now, I’ll screw anyone.”

The man looked her up and down. “You’re not really my type, but you’ll do for tonight,” he said. He took out a thick leather wallet stuffed with bills and threw some cash down on the bar.

“Hey, you like — you like kids?” Enid asked. She tried to stand up but stumbled and fell against the bar. “I’ve got two in the car.”

“I’m a date rapist, not a pedophile,” the man said, grabbing Enid by the elbow. “You’re thinking of Mr. Collins.”

“No, no, no,” Enid said, pulling out of his grasp and standing up straighter. She bobbed from side to side. “What I mean is I need to — I mean, I’ll just — I can come get them in the — in the morning when I pick up my car.”

The man nodded and took her elbow again, gently guiding her out of the bar. Outside, the clear night air filled Enid’s lungs. It didn’t do anything to sober her up.

“Hey, you have a — a nice car,” she said as he walked her over to the passenger side of a black Porsche. “What does your license plate say? 2BRUCE2? What does that mean?”

The man ignored Enid’s questions, instead opening up her door and shoving her in. She fell into the passenger seat with a heavy thud.

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11 2010

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