Distractions would come and go; one day it would be some drama a friend caused, to one of my sisters blaming me for something I didn’t do, or another boy that would try and flirt with me, knowing I know his girlfriend.
In the middle of the summer, a new family moved into the apartment next door. They seemed like a nice family, their mom and dad both worked for the same company as my Dad, named Motorola.
They had three children, the oldest being a set of fraternal twins, they were 13 years old, a girl named Kelly and her brother Kevin. The youngest was Mark, he was my age. At 11 years old, he seemed wise but intense. It kinda scared me.
Kelly and I hit it off right away, even though she was two years older than I was. She was really cool and into music, a singer much like myself.
Kevin was much quieter but really smart. We didn’t have much in common until one day, not long after they had settled into their new surroundings, Kevin asked me a familiar question.
As I stood waiting for his sister Kelly to come outside, Kevin was sitting on the lower steps of the stairway. His question brought me back to thoughts that I left months ago, “Do you believe in ghosts?” he asked out of nowhere.
“Did you say, ghosts? What do you think a ghost is?” I asked in return.
He quickly replied, “An apparition. I’ve been reading about them in books and comic books.”
“Well, I guess it’s possible.” Not wanting to tell him about all of my experiences, I kept my answer short.
Just then Kelly walked outside, “Finally, what did ya have to do, clean the whole house?” Saved by her appearance, I grabbed her arm and walked away from Kevin and his questions.
“See you later Kevin.” We both said as we waved goodbye, making our way to the playground.
“What kind of party.” I could not just say yes without details,
“You know, there will be music and dancing, they have a pool and a hot tub in the back yard. I’m sure there will be some drinking and weed going around, cause some older kids Kevin knows from our old school are throwing the party at their grandmother’s house. It’s a huge house, we have been there before. It’s not far from here, just off Tempe Lake but we might have to catch a ride.”
” What do you mean, catch a ride? How far away is it? Who all is going with you?” I had never been to a party without one of my parents or sisters before.
“You know, we might have to hitchhike or walk if we can’t find a ride. No big deal, Kevin will be with us. Safety in numbers, right?”
“Safety huh,” I wasn’t sure why but I agreed to go. “Ok, sure, if Kevin’s coming and you know these kids. What time are we going?”
“We need to hit the street by 9:00.” Kelly said without hesitation.
“Ok, sounds cool.” I said nodding my head as if I were cool enough to do this.
Kelly continued, she had it all figured out; “We can tell our parents that we are spending the night at each other’s house. You tell your parents you are staying with me and I’ll tell mine that I am staying with you. My parents think Kevin is staying with his friends, besides they both leave for work at 6:00, so we should be able to stay at the party until 1 or so. Making it home just before the parents get back at 3 am.”
Again, not wanting the fear to settle in, I agreed to go.
“WOW! You have it all planned out. Alright, I’m game if you are.”
Changing the subject, Kelly said, “Ok cool, let’s go listen to some music. I just got the new Captain & Tennille record.”
“Sure, your house or mine?”
Kelly suggested, “Yours, my dad is sleeping.”
Hours passed as we were distracted by the music. Soon it was time to ask our parents if we could stay at the others houses, which they all agreed. And so, we left for the party.
“So, where is this ride you said we might have?” I asked as the three of us headed to Tempe Lake.
Both of them looked at me like I was a chicken, “What, you afraid to hitch a ride?”
“No, but I spent most of my time hiding from the cars as we walked to where we were going.” Spoken with some experience, I stated, “You want us to stick out a thumb while we are walking is fine with me. Let’s go.”
We headed down East Broadway, and Kevin stuck his thumb out, as he walked backwards.
“Oh, that’s sure to get us a ride, you better not fall.” Kelly laughed as her brother started to stumble.
“Hey, watch out, you made me trip.” Kevin snapped back.
“You are a trip, that’s for sure. Here let me show you how it’s done.”
Kelly proceeded to stick her thumb out, while walking as she swung her hips back and forth.
“This is my runway walk.” She said as she laughed at herself.
But it worked! Within minutes a car was pulling over, asking if he could give us a ride.
“Where you headed?” said the stranger as he rolled down the window.
“East Rio and McClintock, you going that way?” Kelly said as she leaned into his passenger door window.
“Sure, I am headed right over that way. Jump on in.” With that, the door opened and we were all three seated inside this stranger’s car.
It was a little two door car. Kelly sat up in the passenger’s seat, and Kevin and I sat in the backseat.
As the driver lit up a cigarette I thought, I need one of those, so asked if he minded, as I removed my pack from inside my jean jacket.
“Sure, sure, go right ahead, it’s a free country.” He said in a weird manner.
I could see his eyes in the rear view mirror, they seemed to widen as he caught hold of my gaze.
“So, what are you three up to tonight?” asked the stranger.
“Just headed over to our Grandma’s house for the weekend.” Kelly spoke up first, then Kevin added,
“Yeah, we missed the ride over with our cousins, they are expecting us.”
“Gotcha, well it sounds like a fun weekend. Hope you all don’t get rained out. Looks like a storm is coming, you know how those Monsoons can be.” As the stranger cautioned us, he kept looking at me through the rear view mirror, as if he was warning me directly!
“I’m sure we will be fine but thanks for the warning.” As I responded to his warnings, I continued to look at him, seeing only his eyes, he looked as if his face was shifting. All I could think was, this is very bizarre.
The drive over felt as if it were taking forever but soon we arrived at the corner of East Rio and McClintock.
“You can drop us off right here, we can walk the block over to the house. Thanks for the ride Mister” Kevin said to the stranger as he pulled over on the side of the road to let us out.
“Ok, you kids have fun now. Don’t sweat the rain. It’s the winds you have to watch out for.” And with that, we were out of the car and the stranger drove off.
We started following Kevin as we walked down McClintock towards the party. I blurted out, “That guy was nice but a little weird, huh? He kept staring at me from the rearview mirror.”
“Yeah, looks like you have an admirer.” Kelly said as she laughed and pushed me a little.
Kevin kept walking, encouraging us keep up with him, “Come on, stop messing’ around, we are almost there.”
We turned a corner and started to hear the music bellowing out of one of the houses near the end of the block long street. These houses were huge and had security gates lining the streets.
Kevin walked up to the gate, pushed a button and then a voice came over the speaker,
“What’s the password?”
“The password is Grandma’s House.” Kevin whispered back into the round speaker.
“You may enter” came back as the gates slowly opened for us to walk through.
I had never seen such a place; huge house, security system with two-way audio, it was incredible to see. I found myself questioning if I should have come, I was so out of my comfort zone. “Damn, I have never seen a place like this before, you sure it’s ok for us to be here?”
Wrapping her arm into mine, Kelly assured me, “Yes, we are invited guests. Besides, we are going to have some fun!”
Walking up the stairs into the large porch that wrapped around the front of the house, we were greeted by a nice-looking boy, he must be Kevin’s friend, as he greeted us with a half handshake and a hug, “Welcome, welcome to Grandma’s House. There is plenty to drink by the pool and the rooms have been assigned with logos on the doors. Welcome to try all or watch others indulge.”
I thought, that was a strange greeting but even stranger was the room just ahead, music playing so loud nothing else could be heard. People sitting, dancing, or just standing around. The whole house had groups of people, so Kelly headed to the pool area and I followed.
“Whose place is this really, I mean, what is this place, cause it’s unlike any grandmas I know.” I started feeling uneasy so had to ask.
“It really is Kevin’s friend’s brother’s grandma’s house, she just doesn’t live here anymore. She died and left it to Steven, he’s the guy sitting over there on that lounger. Let’s get a drink and I will take you over and introduce you to him.”
Not knowing what to do, I did what I started out doing and just followed Kelly to the bar and then over to meet this Steven guy.
“Hey Steven!” Kelly said as she leaned over to give him a hug.
“Hey back atcha Kel. Glad you could make it. Who’s your friend?”
Introducing us Kelly said, “This is Sheri, she lives in the apartments we moved into. She’s really cool.”
“Nice, nice, I like cool girls.” His eyes looked me up and down as he said, “Start her out slow, she looks like she would enjoy the white room.”
“Yeah, yeah sure, I am sure she will.” Looking at me Kelly says, “Ok, we are going to go check out the house. See you later.”
Again, following Kelly into the house, I said, “Nice meeting you, thanks for having me. Why did I say that? Thanks for having me?” Kelly just laughed and said, “Don’t worry, I could tell he liked you.”
“Let’s go check out the white room.”
Up until this point I had an uneasy feeling, after taking a few sips of the drink Kelly handed me, I began feeling light headed but walking into this ‘White’ room, was the scariest and the last thing I remember.
There was a large table in the middle of what looked like a dining room, it was bigger than half of my apartment. It sat at least 12 people (More if they squeezed in, which they were) and had chairs all along the walls of the room with more people sitting and talking.
At first glance all I saw was the people in the room, with small mirrors being passed around with rolled up paper or maybe it was rolled up money. They were all taking the mirrors and holding them up to their noses.
“What is this? What are they doing?” I whispered to Kelly, so as to not be overheard.
“They are doing coke, you know, cocaine. Have you ever done it? It’s good stuff. Wanna try it?” Kelly whispered back to me.
“Are you going to do some?” I asked.
“Sure, I do it all the time.”
Again, not wanting to seem uncool, I said “Sure, I’m game.”
Before I could answer, there was a mirror in my hand. I took the rolled-up money into my hand and acted as if I was going to snort it up my nose when I began to see shadow figures darting around the room.
These were unlike any shadow figures I had seen before as they seemed to be much taller and had more form to them. They looked like men, really tall men.
I handed the mirror back to Kelly and said, “I don’t think I want to try this right now, got any weed to smoke on first?”
The person standing next to me was all too accommodating, he said, “Why yes, yes we do and took a joint out of his cigarette pack and handed it to me. “Need a light?” He asked as I put it up to my mouth.
“Yes, please, thank you.” Without even asking who this guy was, I started smoking on the joint provided so easily.
The last thing I remember was sitting in the room, watching these shadows dart from person to person.
My last thought was, “I hope they can’t see me watching them.”
I do not know what happened the rest of that night, nor do I remember getting home.
To be continued…