Kristina lit her own cigarette and took a long, slow drag from it. “Is there any more mundane minutia you want me to take care of for you?”
“You talk funny.”
“Yeah, I know. You’re not the first person who said so. I like to see it as a personality quirk, something that makes me endearing. Is that all, then?”
“It is,” Scarlett said. “I’ll just go, then. Thank you. I have to be backstage for my set.” Scarlett walked towards the back entrance, and Kristina rolled her eyes and took another long smoke. She took the cigarette down just in time to see Scarlett turn her ankle and tumble to the ground with a soft cry. Kristina rolled her eyes again and tromped over to her. She offered the singer a hand.
“Did you just learn to walk yesterday?” Kristina said.
“It’s the heels,” Scarlett said. “I thought I’d be more used to walking with them by now, but I guess sometimes you never get used to these things.” She fished through her little purse for a moment. “My keys,” Scarlett said. “They fell under my car.” She looked up at Kristina with pleading eyes.
Kristina sighed. “I’ll get them.” She got down on her belly and began to shimmy across the pavement underneath the car. While she was underneath Scarlett’s vehicle, she banged her head against something heavy, made of metal. Cursing loudly, she flung her hand to her head and pulled out from under the car. She pulled her hand away; no blood. Well, at least there was that. She was sure she hadn’t been high enough up to hit her head on anything significant, but she took a peek underneath regardless.
What she saw was a tangle of wires and soldered metal. The pipes were duct taped together underneath her car, with a triggering device wired to the insides of the pipes, likely containing some sort of gunpowder or C4. Kristina owned a well-read copy of The Anarchist’s Cookbook. She immediately pulled out her own key ring, ignoring Scarlett’s confused cries of terror, bundled the trigger wires in her left hand, and cut them loose. She shimmied out from under the car and stood up, grabbing Scarlett by the shoulders.
“You had a fucking car bomb underneath your fucking car!” Kristina yelled. “What the hell is wrong with you!? How do you not notice that?”
“How could I?” Scarlett asked, panicking. “It was underneath my car! I don’t generally look underneath my car when I drive it.”
“You didn’t notice that it felt different? Heavier?”
“How much heavier could it have been?”
“Enough to be able to tell,” Kristina replied. “Cars are sensitive, moron. A change in weight will affect the feel of your driving if you’re smart and you pay attention. Haven’t you ever driven home with too many groceries?”
“I don’t think this is the same-”
“Whatever,” Kristina interrupted. She pulled her phone out of her pocket and began to dial 911. Scarlett slapped the phone out of her hand, but Kristina caught it.
“What are you doing!?” Scarlett screamed. “I’m being followed! If you call the police, they’ll come for me.”
“You want that. You need to tell the police, Scarlett,” Kristina warned her. “Like, right now. There’s a bomb under your car. It didn’t hop on for a free ride. Someone put it there on purpose.”
“Yeah, but you disarmed it.”
“I cut the wires leading to the trigger mechanism,” Kristina said. “That’s not enough for me to feel like the bomb is ‘disarmed’. Can we at least wait to use that word until it’s off of your car?”
“Okay, I suppose you know best,” Scarlett allowed. “Are you sure that you know what you’re doing?”
“No, not remotely,” Kristina said, finishing her cigarette. “Which is why we need to call the cops.”
“I have to go onstage, Kristina,” Scarlett said. Her eyes were large and pleading again.
“What, have you got millions of fans to disappoint!?”
“No, I’ve got to get up there to show whoever put that bomb under my car that he can’t control me,” Scarlett said. Her gloved hands gripped Kristina’s shoulders tightly. “I can’t let him win. I can’t let him scare me off.”
“How do you feel about him killing you off?”
“I don’t want to die, but I can’t let him win, either,” she replied with desperation in her voice. “Please help me. Just keep an eye out for people in the bar. Look for anyone suspicious. I can tell from your writing that you have such good situational awareness; you’re sure to notice anyone suspicious lurking around, right?”
“I will, but you know who would be better at this job?” Kristina asked. “The fucking police department! It’s their jobs, their careers, to do all this stuff. They would be able to help you a damn sight better than my sorry ass! You need to get some professionals on this shit, Scarlett, and quickly.”
“Okay, after my set, I’ll call the police,” Scarlett said.
“Honey, you’re playing Billy Joel tunes at a piano bar in the middle of Sodom and fucking Gomorrah ” Kristina said severely. “No one cares if you finish or even start your set. You need to call the cops and get them on this before you literally explode, or someone shoots you.”
“I promise, after I get off the piano,” Scarlett repeated. “The minute I get off the piano, I’ll call the police. Unless you see someone suspicious, then you should probably shoot them or something.”
“I’m pretty sure that was a joke, but I’ going to take you literally there,” Kristina said. “Is cancer time over? Can we get away from all the car bombs and shit and just go inside?” Kristina’s brown eyes caught Scarlett’s, and Kristina tried desperately not to melt. Kristina put a hand on Scarlett’s shoulder and guided her carefully towards the door. Scarlett’s hand snaked behind her and rested on the small of her back. Kristina’s breathing sped up and she removed her hand.
“The door.” Kristina pushed the door open and waved Scarlett inside the bar. “You have a set to finish. Scarlett floated through the entrance, past the bouncer, and Kristina began to worry.