Content Warning: slight gore, murder
There’s never anything to do in small towns, especially not when it’s pouring down rain. While rain hits the window panes of Lilliana Copper’s house, MTV plays in the background. The music playing does little to distract Lilliana from her thoughts as she continues to mindlessly watch the show on the television. No one is home, which is not all that different from normal, and sitting inside is starting to get the girl hanging upside down off the couch. No car, no roller skates, no parents. Feeling stuck is one of the things that Lilliana hates most about her town, and she mumbles curses as she clicks off the TV. A loud sigh escapes her lips as she turns back into an upright position. Once vertical, she scans the coffee table hoping to find something that she didn’t before. An ad jumps out at her as she looks at the array of magazines and newspapers: “Come visit our new Pawn Shop! Books, Cassettes, Vinyl, and More!” The ad looks pretty standard, and there’s nothing really special about it—probably why it had been overlooked before. Glancing out the window at the pouring rain then back at the ad, she decides that she just has to go.
The door clicks behind her as she steps outside. Her first step off the porch is into a puddle. Not even five feet away from the door and her chucks are already soaked. The girl pulls the hood of her rain jacket closer to her face as she walks down the sidewalk and towards the shop. Between the rain and already being down, by the time she reaches the pawn shop, she is soaked and annoyed. By the time the door closes behind her, a salesman has already appeared behind one of the glass cases that surround the perimeter of the shop. The man is smiling in a way that is far too over the top, making Lilliana uncomfortable. Nevertheless, she walks towards the counter with her shoes squishing underneath her feet. Reaching the counter and offering a small smile to the salesman, she can see the items on display. The case is mostly full of old jewelry and antique items Lilliana couldn’t identify if she wanted to.
“Anything catch your eye?” The man in front of her asks. A smile is still plastered on his face as he watches the girl browse.
“No not—” She cuts herself short, noticing a walkman cassette player. “How much is that?” The man’s gaze follows where she is pointing and he takes it out from under the glass.
“30 dollars.” The man huffs out.
“Why is it so cheap? Does it not work?” Lilliana’s questions are met with a chuckle.
“Belonged to some girl who died. Her parents came in to get rid of a bunch of stuff. Told me to sell it all for cheap.” He shrugs and grabs the tape player off of the counter holding it in front of her eyes. “You want it or not, kid?”
Lilliana contemplates buying the item only for a moment before digging in her bag for the money and handing it over. She chooses to ignore her gut feeling that she shouldn’t buy the dead girl’s tape player, and smiles at the man as she shoves it in her bag. Once she’s out the door, she notices that the rain is only coming down harder now. Low rumbles of thunder echo in the distance as her feet slap the wet concrete. Not far from her house now, Lilliana picks up her pace hoping to reach her home faster. Her luck for today seems to run out as she nears her home and sees her mom’s car in the driveway.
She swings the front door open and slips off her shoes that are now soaked with water and mud. She manages to make it only two steps in the house before she hears her mother calling for her.
“Lilliana! Get in here now!” Her mother’s voice echoes through the house from the kitchen. With a groan she complies and walks into the kitchen.
“Yes, Mom?” Her mother is at the counter with a cigarette in her mouth as pizza reheats in the oven for the fifth time this week.
“Where the hell did you go?” A puff of smoke trails from her mother’s chapped mouth as she speaks.
“Just to the new pawn shop down the road.” Lilliana shifts her weight from foot to foot as she speaks, hoping she won’t be screamed at.
“And did you ask permission to do that? I swear you’re the most ungrateful little shit in the world! I wish I never even had you!” This isn’t the first time words like this have been said by her mother, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less.
“Fuck. You.” She turns and runs to her room before her mother can register what she said, locking the door behind her.
Surprisingly her mother doesn’t follow her like she had expected. In the silence, Lilliana contemplates sneaking out the window, but one glance at the rain has her reconsider. Deciding against leaving, she takes her backpack off and grabs the tape player out of it. Looking it over, she can’t find anything that seems to be seriously wrong with it. Once open, she finds that there is a tape in it, labeled “Do not use!” Again she ignores her gut feeling and tosses the tape to the side before going and grabbing a tape from her own small collection. There aren’t many tapes to choose from, mainly because the only way she had to listen to them before was the stereo in the living room. She opts for one she found in a box of things they had from when her dad left—a single called “Love or Money” by Sammy Hagar. Walking back over to her bed she pushes the tape in and slips the headphones on. The music flows from the speakers and into Lilliana’s ears as she bobs her head along to the familiar beats. She knows the lyrics to the song all too well but never sings along until the chorus. “That’s what I want, is a whole lotta money” she sings along, way too loudly as she continues to bob her head. The girl continues until the song ends and she takes the headphones off, satisfied that the item actually does work. It’s only once she stands up from her bed that she notices the pile of cash on her floor.
With a gasp she drops the tape player and rushes over to where the pile of bills sits on the ground in front of her. When she confirms that the money is real, she tries to think of how the money got there in the first place—the walkman. Quickly turning around to get the player from where it fell on the floor, she hugs it to her chest as she recalls the lyrics to the song. That must have been it! Looking at the time she realizes that it’s still early enough for the music store to be open and get more tapes. Luckily enough, Lilliana slips on the pair of shoes she keeps in her room and manages to get the window open. As she climbs out the window and drops to the ground below, rain soaks her once again. It only takes her around an hour to go to the music store and get back with the walkman safely tucked inside her bag, leaving the store with two tapes and a plan. She sneaks back in through the same window she left before her mom even notices she was gone.
Dumping the paper bag with second hand cassettes onto her bed, she smirks at her plan playing out in her head. The first tape she grabs is a song she’s never heard before, “Jack Killed Mom” by Jenny Lewis. Lilliana had heard that the song was supposed to be good, but the title is what had made her buy the tape. Shoving the tape into the walkman and sitting on her bed she waits for the perfect moment in the song when she hears what she needs and then rewinds it. At the top of her lungs she sings with the lyrics “Mama lying on her back / The one who taught him right from wrong / But knew no better all along / She got ran through when Jack killed his Mom.” She finishes listening to the song before daring to venture out of her room. As she walks towards the kitchen she notices that it’s too quiet for her mother to be in there. The smell of cigarette smoke is stale instead of fresh like usual. Reaching the kitchen and peering in, a gasp escapes the girl’s lips for the second time today. Her mother—or what used to be her mother—lays in the middle of the floor in the kitchen. Blood soaks her mother’s clothes and pools around her on the floor. The blood seems to be coming from every orifice possible, almost like she was hit by a car. Lilliana begins to laugh at the sight—it worked. It actually worked. What’s left of her mother lays on the floor still oozing from her crushed skull as the young girl laughs.
Lilliana continues to laugh in disbelief as she walks back to her room to use the other tape that she bought; another song that she isn’t familiar with. In fact, she has only heard the beginning line on the radio once before her mom turned it off. The tape is more of a mix than an album or single, but the shop owner had said the song she wanted was first on the tape. She looks at the cover and the group name, D.R.I., stares her in the face. Shrugging, the teen shoves the tape in and waits for the track to start. “A pretty young girl from the oakland hills” Lilliana sings along waiting for the words to come true, but before they can, she hears the next lines of the song… Then everything goes dark.
* * *
Lilliana really should’ve listened to the whole song first. Though it’s much too late for that now. Her eyes stare at the wall as the rest of the song plays, and her dead body stiffens.
“A pretty young girl from the oakland hills
Stole her dad’s car and all her mom’s pills
Got all fucked up and drove off A cliff
Ended up dead, dead in A ditch”
– Dead in a Ditch by D.R.I.