The story so far: The unexpected appearance of Allison’s sister, Teri, convinced her to stay at Eric’s party a while longer. Maybe there’s still time to save the night. Maybe. The year is 1987.
In the family room, Hope and Courtney are carrying Mary out of the house through the back. The three of them are so drunk that they’re bumping into furniture and knocking over things. Mary’s laugh carries in from the patio, and the music suddenly stops.
“Dude!” someone yells.
There is an outburst of laughter before the back door slams. Without the stereo playing, all you hear is the din of many conversations going at once: an obnoxious laugh by one of the trumpet players in the family room; some jocks butchering the lyrics to a song by Cinderella; Karen Moorehouse fending off her drunk boyfriend, Billy; Tom Meany bitching about getting hit by a basketball and spilling a beer all over himself.
I walk out to the patio to start the music up again. Flipping through Eric’s LPs, I’m pleased he has the new Psychedelic Furs release, Midnight to Midnight. With great care, I place the vinyl on the turntable and the needle to the groove at the beginning of the record. The song “Heartbreak Beat” begins.
My stomach gurgles, making me realize how hungry I am. It’s no wonder. My watch reads 10:45, and I’m not sure if I ate dinner tonight. Making my way back inside, Gwen meets me at the bottom of the steps that lead into the kitchen.
“What happened to you?” I ask.
“I went to say goodbye to a couple of people and I thought you were right behind me. Next thing I know, I’m in the backyard, and I realized you’re not there.”
“I got sidetracked. Teri came to the house.”
“Teri, here? Is everything okay?”
“Actually, it’s good. She acted like my big sister for the first time in a while.”
“Get out!” Gwen responds.
“I’m still in shock, myself,” I laugh.
“How are you feelin’?” Gwen asks, her hand on my shoulder and a concerned, motherly look on her face.
“I’m fine, Gwen.”
“Good,” she replies, a relieved look on her face. “So I have an idea.”
“Shocking,” I joke.
She pushes me and laughs. “I think we should make our ‘Midnight Journey’ to Denny’s.”
“You know what, Gwen, I kind of want to stay for a little while longer. I probably won’t get all wild and crazy, but I haven’t been to a party in a long time, and it’s kind of nice to act… normal.”
“Oh,” she replies, a little disappointed.
“What?” I ask.
Her eyes drift over my shoulder. I look behind me. Nick Rapossi is waiting patiently. He waves.
“Gwen, were you planning on hanging out with Nick at Denny’s?”
Gwen shrugs. “He’s really nice. And hot. There’s a whole group going. But we can stay here. That’s totally cool.”
“You go ahead.”
“What? No way,” Gwen objects. “You’re sleeping over my house tonight.”
“We can do it another time. It’s a long summer. Seriously, Gwen, I’m totally cool with you going. I… kind of want to wait and see if Brian returns.”
“I need to tell him how I feel. I need to get it off my chest.”
“Um, about that… I… kind of told him you’re in love with him.”
She smiles sheepishly. “Now do you want to go to Denny’s?”
I chuckle. “No. Now I really have to stay and see if he shows up.”
“It’s all good. Go have your Moon Over My Hammy.”
She gives me a big hug. “Thanks. Call you tomorrow.”
“Be safe,” I tell her.
She practically skips over to Nick.
Brian knows how I feel? Good. That makes it easier for me. I won’t have to tip-toe around the fact, and we can speak like adults.
I may throw up.
In the kitchen, I open the refrigerator to begin scrounging for a suitable snack to ease the queasy feeling in my tummy. I move aside some old hot dog buns, a pickle jar, and a half eaten pie with the fork in the tray. Hidden behind those things is a lone plum. Ripe, soft, just right. The first bite is refreshing. I close my eyes with the second bite and finish it with three more bites. I was famished.
“Nothing like a good piece of fruit,” I say, smiling.
“Shhh. Don’t tell anyone; I have a reputation to uphold.”
“Nobody’s ever said you weren’t wholesome.”
With a tilt of my head, I narrow my eyes and ponder Eric’s remark. He’s kicking his feet against the kitchen counter.
“Eric, I’m sorry I made a scene.”
“We all need to freak out sometimes. It’s good for the soul.”
“Do you really believe that?”
Eric gives me a knowing look, as if he’s had his own share of freak outs. This gives me comfort.
“Besides,” Eric continues, “it wouldn’t be a party if we didn’t have some tears.”
“Hey,” I begin, “tell me what’s up with the Santa Claus.”
“I found him in a trash pile on my way home this afternoon. He looked lonely. I thought maybe he’d bring us some good spirit.”
It’s funny how certain people are a conduit for friendships. That’s Eric. How else do you explain band geeks, stoners, jocks and princesses all congregating under the same roof? It’s not just that this is an empty house on a summer night where kids can hang out; there’s a community here, and Eric is the center.
“Eric,” I say, “I ran into Michelle Ito. She was with–”
“You saw them?”
“Saw them? I stumbled in on the two of them going getting hot and heavy in the bathtub!”
“In the bathtub? Gross.”
“It gets better. Michelle freaked and bolted. She left her shorts behind in the bathroom!”
“And Bob is such a dick, he made some lame ass comment and didn’t do anything. So I grabbed her shorts and chased her down, walking home in her pink… satin… underwear.”
His eyes look off, conjuring up the image of Michelle in her undies.
“You caught up with her?”
“You bet! And, like, right now she’s waiting at the end of the driveway. She’s just a little embarrassed to come back in, you know, after running through the house in her pink…satin…”
“Eric. Focus! Does she need a ride home?”
“Yes. Exactly. This is why I’m here.”
“Sure, I can drive her home.”
“Well, that’s not exactly what I had in mind.”
“Ally, you know I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t, like, life changing important.”
I scrutinize Eric.
“See, I, uh, loaned Brian the Family Truckster and, like, I know I’m not supposed to leave my party, but, well, you’re here… and responsible and, like, it would only be a couple minutes.”
No way. He’s not getting my car, not my Bug.
She is the girl of his dreams, and I know he’d do the same for me in an instant. And those puppy dog eyes of his are crushing me. Darn you, Eric Garcia.
“Are you sober?” I ask.
“I swear to you, Ally, I haven’t had a drink in hours. I’ve been too worried about the house to get drunk. Throwing a party is stressful work.”
I sigh. My hand slips into my front pocket where I’ve kept my car keys all night.
“It’s parked around the corner, a yellow VW Bug.”
I place the keys in his palm, and Eric’s eyes practically explode out of his head.
“You rock, Ally!”
“Please, please, PLEASE be careful.”
He gives me a tight hug, and then runs off to be the hero. Now I’m really not going anywhere. That’s okay. I said I’d do anything for Eric, and I meant it.
I back into a corner of the kitchen and take a seat on the counter. I study the décor of the kitchen. It has a 70’s vibe. There’s the quaint wallpaper with cooking utensils on it, the puke yellow refrigerator, the round, white swivel chairs that look like they were set pieces from Space 1999 and the red/yellow/purple tile on the floor. It’s the kind of kitchen you want to laugh at, yet find oddly comforting.
I’m just feeling relaxed, as if I can finally put all of the crap from tonight behind me, when Andrea, Kate’s best friend, runs into the center of the family room and screams, “COP!”
A mass exodus of kids flee by me, through the back door and into the night. They cut through the backyard and into an adjoining neighborhood. Unbelievably, they leave their cars behind. Standing there, stunned by their stupidity, it dawns on me that I’m all alone in the middle of a party house. The squeaky shoes of a police officer are coming down the hallway.
Oh my God. What if it’s Mike Garner? That would be horrific.
The police officer walks into the room, dressed in a bright blue shirt and a shiny, tin badge. A Mobile Security badge? It’s not a police officer; it’s Eric’s older brother, dressed in a security guard uniform.
The look on his face almost makes me wish he was a cop, as he snarls, “Where is my brother?”
Today’s artwork was by Kristal Babich. Kristin graduated Summa Cum Laude from Savannah College of Art and Design, with a degree in Sequential Art. Her love of story telling and drawing merged perfectly into comics, storyboards, and visual development for animation. For more information, visit kristalbabich.tumblr.com
Psychedelic Furs’ song, “Heartbreak Beat,” is found on their 1987 album, Midnight to Midnight.
Previous Chapters: Chapter 30, Chapter 29, Chapter 28, Chapter 27, Chapter 26, Chapter 25, Chapter 24, Chapter 23, Chapter 22, Chapter 21, Chapter 20, Chapter 19, Chapter 18, Chapter 17, Chapter 16, Chapter 15, Chapter 14, Chapter 13, Chapter 12, Chapter 11, Chapter 10, Chapter 9, Chapter 8, Chapter 7, Chapter 6, Chapter 5, Chapter 4, Chapter 3, Chapter 2, Chapter 1, Introduction
Read Chapter 32 of Legendary