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MurderWeasel
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I can trick them into thinking anything
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((Enter Karen Ruiz, pregame edition))

The height of fashion, Salvation Army was not, but, then again, it wasn't like Karen Ruiz was dressing to impress. No, she was simply here to find some new things to wear, something to break up the monotony a bit. It was more the process of shopping that interested her than the end results. It was something quiet to do, something peaceful where she didn't have to interact with anyone except the clerk, and even that usually involved under a dozen words from her end.

She was digging through the racks. The store was deserted. It always was this time of day, that weird half hour before closing. By a happy coincidence, it was also a spot of time between school and work for Karen every Tuesday. She came here, poked around, and searched for the perfect outfits. Of course, her perfect outfit was the one that wouldn't be too loud, that would get her passed over by being dull, and, if someone were to examine her, would draw the brunt of their attention for being mildly eccentric, would get looked at instead of Karen herself.

She didn't like it when people looked at her face.

It was almost a game, in a sense, an indirect form of interaction and communication. Karen felt a little like she was playing hide and seek in plain sight, like she was pulling one over on the world every time someone looked past her. It was a good feeling.

The store was organized by color. She was in the land of black, poking through rows upon rows of tops. Tank top? No. Too revealing. T-shirt with a bleeding heart? Too goth. Vertical stripes? Absolutely not: those directed all attention straight up to the face. Tube top? Ick.

But, sure enough, she found what she was looking for before long. A couple black turtlenecks, unpatterned, a little bit loose. They were pretty androgynous, but then, most of Karen's clothing was. She didn't much care for skirts. They restricted her movement, kept her from being able to run quickly. She didn't run much off the soccer field, but she wanted the assurance that she could, if it ever became important. She knew it was for some of her classmates.

An added bonus to wearing secondhand clothes was that you usually didn't look worth the effort to mug.

She was pretty much set. A couple shirts, a pair of black jeans (boys' jeans; she couldn't stand those pelvis-huggers so many girls wore), and a new set of sneakers. Total cost would be about fifteen dollars, with the day's sale. She could afford fifteen dollars. She was going to head straight for the checkout, but was diverted by the books. Never anything good at this store, but worth a check, since they'd gotten some new stuff in. Hm. A Brunner novel she hadn't read. Cost of fifty cents. It went onto the pile. Something to do if work got slow.

She was on her way out once more, when she happened to glance over to the men's section and saw a long, black coat hanging on the racks. It was... well, it was a bit out there for her, but she liked something about it. It almost drew her to it, between the aisles, and soon she was weaving past a couple of mannequins. A quick look at it showed her that it was old, maybe older than she was. Looked like it could easily be from the '80s or '90s. Hm. She pretty much had her budget sorted out, but trying it on wouldn't hurt. She set the rest of her stuff on the ground, and pulled the coat off the rack. It was made of some sort of stiff cotton, but it was lined. Double-breasted, buttoning to the right, but otherwise pretty much a normal trench coat. The belt was frayed and the buckle chipped, and there was a coffee stain on the left sleeve, but she could clean the mark, and she rarely wore coats fastened anyways.

She checked the price tag. Seven dollars, after the sale. That meant...

It meant she was suddenly faced with a choice. Reviewing her finances in her head, she realized she'd be a buck or two short of what she needed if she was going to save her lunch money.

The consideration didn't take too long. She could go hungry one afternoon if she didn't manage to recoup the difference in loose change in her half of the bedroom. She'd just have to reign herself in next week. She was only getting about twelve hours of work a week during the school year, and most of that paycheck went to food. She'd feel just awful if she couldn't contribute a bit more to the family's grocery budget. Her youngest brother, Jason, had his birthday coming up, too, and she still had to find him a gift.

She considered again. Decided she could indulge herself just a bit every now and then.

So, with that done, she headed for the checkout, paid her twenty five dollars, got her change, and left the store, pulling her new coat on. It brushed her ankles. It made her feel a little powerful, for a change, a little less scared of the alleys she passed. Almost like she could walk unafraid.

Of course, that was a bad thing. That was what Francis had thought, when he took a swing at that robber. That was the reason he was now in a position where the doctors said, with a whole lot of luck, he could maybe get in and out of his wheelchair on his own in the morning and in the restroom, if the physical therapy worked out. That was the reason Karen now worked twelve hours a week, and why her grades had dropped from the upper side of average to the lower one. It was a dangerous feeling indeed.

She pulled her coat a little closer against the cold.

Time for work. Homework. School. Reading in there somewhere.

She already couldn't wait for summer.

((Karen Ruiz continued in Beat The Lunch Line))
Current characters:

The Program: V3 Prologue:
Mina Mashall - Digital Voice Recorder - Making a good impression - "I didn't know you felt so strongly about me."
Erik Bell - Jericho .941 - Having lunch - "May I?"

SECOND CHANCES: V2:
Assorted flora and fauna

SOTF-TV V2:
EW4: Jewel Evans - Chatterbox Communicator Headsets (0/5) - Online - ELIMINATED - "Scars are just reminders to be better next time."

Past characters:

If you want an honest assessment of your character's storyline, feel free to PM me and I'll whip one up as soon as I am able.

Thanks to Bear/Frogue/Kotorikun/Ryuki for the avatar art.
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