Lulu Dark Can See Through Wallsby Bennett Madison
Lulu Dark is the anti-Nancy—a chic, tough-talking city girl who never meant to get involved in a mystery. . . .
Author Biography: Bennett Madison lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he enjoys spending time with the many Lulus in his life. See more details below
Lulu Dark is the anti-Nancy—a chic, tough-talking city girl who never meant to get involved in a mystery. . . .
Author Biography: Bennett Madison lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he enjoys spending time with the many Lulus in his life.
- Penguin Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.30(w) x 7.32(h) x 0.89(d)
- Age Range:
- 12 - 17 Years
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LULU DARK CAN SEE THROUGH WALLS
By BENNETT MADISON
RAZORBILLCopyright © 2005 Bennett Madison
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMY NAME IS LULU DARK. I AM NOT the girl detective type.
I'm not going to name names, but I know a thing or two about those amateur sleuths, the ones you read about in books, and they couldn't be more different from me.
I do not speak Arabic or Chinese or German or even Spanish like they do. I speak English, and the only French phrases I know are things like, "I go to the beach," or, "We go to the pool, yes?" I don't do jujitsu, I don't have a photographic memory, and I've never skydived. I can't water-ski and I don't want to. If there was a criminal escaping on water skis with a satchel full of priceless diamonds, I would certainly not chase after her in any way. What I would do is yawn and be glad that they weren't my diamonds because for one thing, I don't have any diamonds. My dad has a lot of valuable paintings, but if an evil crook carried them off across a tightrope, it would be no big deal because he's a famous painter and he'd just paint some more. No death-defying pursuit necessary. I'm not trying to be a jerk, but I believe in truth, and the truth is that if old Mrs. Banneker next door told me that her poor, beloved cat was missing, it wouldn't occur to me to be intrigued I wouldn't say, "That sounds mysterious, Mrs. Banneker, I'll go investigate." Instead I would say, "That's too bad, Mrs. Banneker. Good thing you've still got fifteen cats left."
Of course, there's no old Mrs. Banneker next door anyway.
Please. What universe do these girl detectives live in? In fact, the apartment next door is occupied by this yuppie couple who have never even introduced themselves. God knows what their names are. One time, though, I did hear them having phone sex when the signals on our portable phones crossed. Then I went and took like the longest shower of my entire life.
You must be wondering why I'm telling you all this. I must sound like a total jerk, dissing on imaginary Mrs. Banneker and some yuppies I don't even know and ... well, you probably know the girl detective's name.
Pardon me if I'm peevish, but you would be too if you'd found yourself hiding out in a Dumpster at three in the morning over some petty amateur sleuth crap that you did not-repeat, not-sign up for. But what can you do when the criminals are practically lining up to bug you, and I'm talking you personally? When you're a girl like me, you fight back. Which, of course, is how it all started.
It was a perfect moment. You know the type. That feeling you get every now and then when-just for a second-everything seems so ideal? Charlie, Daisy, and I were in our usual booth at Big Blonde-the slightly elevated one, right by the pool table. We were a little bit bored. It had been ages since anything interesting had happened, and I, for one, didn't have high hopes for the evening. We'd been having the same exact type of fun every Friday night for months. Why should this one be any different?
Well. It was.
We were at the club to see this band called the Many Handsomes, and apparently everyone else in Halo City had the same idea. The place was totally packed with people, including, it seemed, half the kids from Orchard Academy, where Daisy, Charlie, and I are juniors. Everyone was buzzing around, scoping each other out, doing their usual thing.
"This band is going to blow up, like, any day if this many people are on to them," Charlie said. "Is there anyone who's not here?"
I glanced around the room. Our booth had the best view in the whole place, and Charlie had a point. There were so many people at Big Blonde it was hard to pick any one person out of the crowd. It was a faceless throng-my favorite kind. But as I let my gaze drift through the mass, I started to recognize a few faces-one by one, and then more.
Adam Wahl, Charlie's friend, was sitting at the coffee bar with all the other guys from the jazz band, and Trina Rockwell and Blair Wright, the two most popular girls in the school, were standing by the bathrooms examining themselves in the mirrors of their compacts while they gossiped with each other.
"Look," Charlie said. "Even Berlin is here."
Berlin Silver had just transferred to our school in January. When Charlie mentioned her. I followed the direction of his gaze, peering over the rims of my glasses.
Berlin was standing by the jukebox, studying the selection and shaking her butt in an approximation of rhythm. She was blond and leggy and practically as tall as me, which was nice because it made me feel like less of an overgrown freak.
"Ugh," Daisy groaned, shaking her head ruefully at the sight of Berlin. "Berlin Silver has a terrible case of the vile juju. Beware. Wherever she goes, only trouble can follow. It is a matter of bad karma."
I laughed "You're mixing your mysticisms Karma or juju: you only get to pick one. And I don't see why you have such a problem with Berlin. What has she ever done to you?"
"Nothing That's the point. Neither of you guys notice it because she sucks up to you. You both have money and important parents. But when it comes to a scholarship student, she has no reason to acknowledge me at all. I don't think she's ever uttered a word in my direction."
Daisy likes almost everyone, so I always listen up when she has a nasty feeling about someone. In this case, I felt bad. I hate it when the snobbier people at our private school treat Daisy differently because she's not, like, a sultan's daughter or something.
"I'll take your word for it," I told her. "Sorry I never noticed. No one gets away with being a jerk to my friends."
Charlie was listening to the conversation, taking it all in with careful consideration. He looked across the crowd at Berlin appraisingly. "I'll tell you one thing," he said. "Snob or not, that girl is hot."
"Whatever," I replied. "She's just your usual run-of-the-mill blonde."
Berlin had turned from the jukebox and was dancing all by herself. She was wearing a blue sequined tube top and skintight black pants. She had her hands over her head and was hopping from side to side, swaying precariously on her enormous espadrilles. It was a weird dance, but I had to admit it was sort of cute.
"It's a fact." Charlie shrugged. "There's not a guy at school who's not into her."
"Except you." Daisy ribbed him with her elbow. "Right?"
"Right," he said unconvincingly.
I twirled a chunk of hair around my pinky. "It is funny how she doesn't quite fit in, though," I mused. "Think about it. She's rich, well dressed, and pretty. It seems like the perfect formula for head-cheerleader style popularity. But aside from having the boys drooling, she's not exactly the queen of Orchard Academy."
"Well, she is a little weird," Charlie pointed out. "And all she ever talks about is how her great grandfather invented the aluminum can."
"It's like she learned how to be a person from watching Dynasty reruns on cable." I agreed.
"Exactly," Daisy said. "As a matter of fact, I predict that she's only here because French Vogue says this band is fashionable."
"I canceled my French Vogue subscription, so I wouldn't know," I said. "But you have to admit they're on to something. Look around. Everyone in this room can tell that something big is going to happen tonight."
I was sort of right, it turned out, although in the end it didn't have much to do with the band.
The three of us scanned the crowd together, taking it all in. It was nice to be just the three of us, all calm and easy in the middle of that pandemonium.
Then Daisy whispered, "Don't flip out, Lulu. Your favorite people are here."
I groaned. Daisy didn't have to say the words. I knew exactly who she meant.
Rachel Buttersworth-Taylor and Marisol Bloom were making their way into the place, glued to each other as usual. They tossed their ponytails around, laughing and chatting up everyone they saw.
Even though they're my total enemies, there was such a good vibe in the club that I almost smiled when I saw them working the crowd. I caught myself just in time, though, holding my frown and rolling my eyes. When you have enemies, it's important not to go soft about them.
"Lulu." Daisy's voice was firm. "No fighting with Rachel Buttersworth-Taylor tonight. Okay?"
"Maybe you should try liking them," Charlie suggested. "They actually can be somewhat cool."
"What?" I snapped, annoyed. "You want me to like them? This feud with Rachel and Marisol isn't even my fault. You both know that!"
It's so silly to think about now, but it all started over a boy.
Rachel and I have known each other since kindergarten, but we haven't always been enemies. In fact, we never paid much attention to each other at all until seventh grade, when she started "going with" this guy named Sam Mason. That's what you call it in seventh grade because you're obviously not going out. There's no out to go to-except for maybe the playground, which isn't all that romantic.
Anyway, Rachel and Sam went together for a week, and then he got bored with her and started going with me. It was so not a big deal. It's not like I stole him. No one dates for more than a week in seventh grade anyway.
Before the end of the year Sam's family moved to Los Angeles, which is probably just as well. But the point is that Rachel totally freaked out over the whole thing, claiming that I snatched her boyfriend. That's where the whole war started.
Hello? It was seventh grade! Who cares? But if she was going to start trouble, I wasn't going to take it lying down.
I guess it all got a little bit out of hand.
"Listen." I sighed, pleading my case to Daisy and Charlie. "I've tried to bury the hatchet with Rachel many times and it just doesn't work. She's the one with the issue. And in case you don't recall, may I remind you of the fishy little episode she pulled with one of our friends from the sea-"
"As if you'd ever let us forget," Charlie cut me off. "Never mind that it was over two years ago."
I started to protest, but Daisy placed a warning hand on my knee.
"Brace yourself," she said. "The dreaded ones approach."
I watched in horror as Rachel and Marisol headed toward our table, then put on my hardest drop-dead face. I may not be the most popular girl in school, but I make up for it by being pretty intimidating when I want to Marisol and Rachel just wanted to stir things up. Well, they could try their hardest, because nothing was going to raze me tonight.
"Hey, guys," Rachel said sweetly when they got to our booth Marisol stood by her side with her trademark fake-shy smirk.
Of the two, only Rachel was openly evil, but sometimes I thought that quiet little Marisol was the truly scary one. I don't trust people who pretend to be shy. You can just see the wheels turning in their heads as they plot all their sneaky little schemes.
"Hey, Rachel," Charlie replied. "What are you guys up to tonight?"
I scowled at him. He's so friendly that he can't help being pals with everyone. Traitor.
"We're here for the show. I've been into the Many Handsomes, like, forever," Rachel said. "Since way before anyone else heard of them." She turned to me just in time to catch me rolling my eyes. She gave me a mean, squinty grin. And although I tried very hard, I couldn't suppress a small, sarcastic snort.
Rachel's eyes were stony. "Lulu," she said snarkily, "don't you have, like, a dermatologist's appointment you should be at or something? You've had that zit on your jaw for like a week now."
I felt my face flush. I didn't think anyone had noticed my zit-I'd been doing such a good job of covering it up!
"You should be so lucky, Rachel," I fumed. "I'd rather have a huge, rancid zit than be cursed with a face like yours."
An ominous cloud darkened Rachel's eyes, and Marisol glanced nervously at her friend to see how she would react. In the end they couldn't think up a comeback.
Both girls turned tail, making a beeline for the front of the stage. In my mind, I chalked up another point for myself. No one gets the best of Lulu Dark.
"Very charming, Lulu," Daisy grumbled after they had gone. "Can't you just ignore them?"
I tried to look contrite, but it's really not my strongest suit.
"Hey!" I protested. "They were the ones picking on me!" My friends paid no attention.
"I'm going to get another cup of coffee," Charlie said. He got up and mussed his hair self-consciously, looking both ways to see if anyone was checking him out. Daisy and I both saw him do it. We exchanged a glance.
"What?" Charlie asked.
"Nothing," we said together, stifling giggles.
"Charlie's such a social butterfly," I whispered when he was out of earshot. "He just wants to see and be seen. It's probably the reason he goes through girlfriends so fast. He can't help being a flirt."
"I think he gets it from his mom and his sister," Daisy replied.
She was right. Carly and Genevieve Reed are the reigning social queens of their respective age groups in Halo City. Carly, his mom, is always throwing these huge charity benefits, which are really just excuses for all her socialite friends to buy new gowns. His sister. Genevieve, on the other hand, skips through the downtown haunts of the well-heeled, abusing cocktail waiters and leaving a trail of broken hearts, unpaid tabs, and stubbed-out Capris.
I thought about it for a second. By all rights Charlie should have turned out to be another bratty trustafarian. But instead he's a nice guy to the core.
"Have you noticed that it's been sort of a while since Charlie's dated anyone?" I asked.
Daisy shrugged, "I guess. Maybe he's just ..."
She paused, distracted, then giggled in bewilderment. "Lulu, check out that girl in the corner."
I turned around and immediately hooted. About ten feet away from us a bored, mean-looking girl in sunglasses leaned up against the wall. She whipped out a bottle of nail polish and began painting her nails.
"What is she doing?" I asked, totally confused. "Why would anyone come to a packed club just to work on her manicure? And is she for real with those sunglasses?"
"Good questions," Daisy said. "Maybe she's an albino with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Or perhaps she's an employee of Sally Hansen, the nail polish company." She tapped a finger on her chin, taking the issue very seriously. "That doesn't explain the sunglasses, though."
"Maybe she is Sally Hansen!" I mused. "She's wearing the sunglasses because she doesn't want to be seen by her adoring fans!"
"You know, I always wondered who Sally Hansen really was," Daisy said, slipping into her own universe. "I've often thought she might be the illegitimate daughter of Estee Lauder-abandoned on some church doorstep in Wisconsin and taken in by Norwegian immigrants."
"Well, if that is her, we should make friends." I giggled "Maybe she'll give us free polish."
"Better that than Wet 'n' Wild," Daisy decided. "But I wouldn't count on being best buddies. She looks kind of, um, forbidding."
At that moment Sally Hansen looked up from her nails and glared right at us. Daisy and I quickly averted our eyes, studying our coffee cups like they were the most fascinating things in the world.
Whew! Nearly caught mid mockery. That was a close one.
I swirled my mug around, watching the black stuff inside slide back and forth. Sometimes I think my coffee would taste better if I put milk and sugar and all that junk into it, but my dad taught me from a young age that to do that would be wrong. I took a final, bluer swig.
"Did Charlie say that he was going to get me more?" I asked.
"He didn't mention it." Daisy answered.
I realized that Charlie had actually been gone for a while. "Where has that boy gotten to?" I wondered aloud.
"Bathroom, maybe?" Daisy guessed. But for some reason I didn't think so.
"I'll bet you anything that Berlin Silver has him cornered. She's just itching for a date with Charlie."
"Definitely," Daisy said, making a face. "You should see how she stares at him in study hall. Like a wolf about to devour a helpless little lamb. Or a puppy. A beagle puppy."
"I'll go see if he needs rescuing."
"You do that," Daisy said.
I pulled my purse onto my lap and snapped it open. It was my favorite purse-a fake Kate Spade that I bought from an extra-shady bootlegger on the corner of Roxbury and Flower Avenue. I'd had it for two years, and the way I was attached to it, I can't even tell you.
It had a garish, tacky, pink-and-yellow flower pattern and a hot pink strap, I loved it precisely because it was a phony and because-with its ridiculously over-the-top design-it looked like no other bag in the world.
I grabbed my lip gloss from inside and slicked on a new coat. Then I tossed the bag over my shoulder and made my way through the crush of the crowd.
Excerpted from LULU DARK CAN SEE THROUGH WALLS by BENNETT MADISON Copyright © 2005 by Bennett Madison. Excerpted by permission.
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