Content Warning : Drugs and soft nudity – again. And relatively bad language…
… but honestly I just need to be a little crazy
All my life I’ve been good,
But now whoa, I’m thinking what the hell
All I want is to mess around
And I don’t really care…
Avril Lavigne – What the Hell
Taïga and Linn are getting ready for a quiet girl’s night, when the doorbell rings. Believing it is the cute pizza guy, Taïga hurries after her best friend downstairs…
‘Hi!’ she lances bewildered at the small group in the hall. ‘What are they doing here?’ She hisses between clenched teeth to Linn, who scratches her head and shrugs.
The door opens again on Jayler and a sour faced Tess.
‘Thought you said it was a party?’ she nudges her boyfriend, adding sulkily, ‘It sucks…’
Valeria Morales looks around her, assessing the surroundings. ‘It’s supposed to be a house party.’ She drawls.
‘Yes.’ Ana Kempinsky nods forcefully. ‘But maybe we’re the first?’
‘House party? The first?’ Realization dawns on her and she looks around for a sight of Sprinkler.
‘No worries. It’s gonna be a blast! I’ve rounded up all my homies.’ Jayler smiles broadly. ‘And we’ll get this party banging when Merlott’s closes up for the night!’ He checks his watch, ‘Which will be in an hour or so…’
‘Err… cool…’ Taïga smiles nervously at him, tugging on Linn’s arm, ‘Can I have a moment with you, Linn?’ she whispers, dragging her best friend under the stairs out of earshot of the others.
Charlene wrinkles her nose to push up her glasses, ‘Maybe it’s not such a good idea, after all. Taïga seems rather upset about the whole thing…’
‘C’mon, Charlene.’ Ana says, ‘Of course she’s kinda worried – she’s throwing a party and no-one’s coming…’
Taïga has a bad feeling, she knows Jayler has lots of friends, almost a social network of his own…
‘You heard them? A house party! We can’t throw a party here! We’re not even supposed to be here this weekend! Linn, we have to stop this now, before anyone else gets here.’
Linn starts to answer, throwing a quick glance at their classmates huddled together, discussing. ‘I think it might be too late…’
Taïga follows her gaze, ‘Oh, no…’
‘I can’t believe this is happening…’
She rushes forward to try to stop the people already streaming into the house, but it’s too late.
She finds herself helplessly flattened against the door, while all her friends, together with a large amount of laughing and chatting people she hardly knows, air kissing or high fiving buoyantly make their way Inside.
Ill at ease, she scans the crowd for Logan, and is relieved that he doesn’t seem to be there. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t coming – he might be in the horde of party people that will probably come when Molly decides to call it a day and kick everyone out…
‘I brought the music! Let’s get this party started!’
Taïga just gapes at the trio on the porch. SimmyC proceeds into the old mansion, the thump of the bass from his boom box vibrating right through her chest.
‘Jesus…’ She looks desperately around for Sprinkler.
SimmyC struts in time to the music, holding his boom box on the shoulder like a DJ from the 80’s. His twin sister Ghana and her BFF Ibtihal are following close behind, checking out the action and hardly acknowledging Taïga at the door…
Kayla hands Linn a brown paper bag. ‘My contribution!’
‘Err… Thanks.’ She peeks into the bag. What is this?
‘Hey!’ Two guys have stopped in front of Linn, laden with boxes. ‘Where do we dump the booze?’
‘The booze?’ Linn looks bewildered around for Taïga. ‘Err… Over there, I guess.’ She nods towards the kitchen before pushing through the crowd, looking for Taïga. Another guy grabs her arm, ‘Where’s the tub?’
‘The tub? Upstairs.’
‘No good. Too far from the food and the crowd…’ Linn stares at him, and he shrugs. ‘OK.’ He waves to a burly guy carrying two coolers. ‘The tub’s upstairs! Who’s got the other coolers?’
‘There you are!’ Taïga brushes a strand of hair from her grim face. ‘Could you help me find Jayler? His friends are here and there are cars everywhere -even on the lawn- and there’s a pick up with a keg and-’
‘Uh-oh…’ Linn stares into the kitchen over Taïga’s shoulder.
‘What now?’ Slowly she turns around…
‘OMG!’ Taïga takes in the scene of the kitchen turned into a liquor store. She rushes forward and starts putting beer bottles back into the boxes.
‘Don’t!’ She snatches a can out of SimmyC’s hand and promptly puts it back onto the counter, ‘Just give me that and-’
A movement in the far corner of the kitchen draws her attention.
Sprinkler! On all four she scrambles over and blocks the little leprechaun behind some buckets. ‘I’ll kill you for this! I swear I will!’
‘Aww. Come on. We’ll have a whale of a time! This party will be over the top great!’ He gestures towards the craters with beer. ‘Everyone will talk about it for ages! There’s Guinness for everyone. Not too cold, mind you, but-’
‘What? You prefer cold beer? That shouldn’t be a problem as some fellows have filled the tub upstairs with ice so-’
‘Oh, shit!’ Taïga struggles to her feet and heads towards the already crowded stairs.
‘Oups! Where’s she off in such a hurry?’ Bloom says to no one in particular as Taïga sweeps past on her way towards the stairs.
‘Dunno. Here, have a beer!’ SimmyC tries to squeeze past in Taïga’s wake, arms loaded with beer.
‘Thanks. Fine. Now where do I find some fruits?’ She opens the fridge and is happy to see a whole array of tropical fruits; bananas, oranges and lemons. In a plastic box there are mango and pineapple already sliced.
‘Cool…’ She grabs a knife and singing to herself, she rapidly starts cutting the fruit in tiny pieces…
Taïga never makes it as far as to the stairs. She’s waylaid into the sitting room, and with the latest hits blaring from SimmyC’s boom box, she’s soon dancing with the other kids.
So what the Hell? It’s too late anyway, she can’t throw everyone out. Or can she? Whatever. She’ll be sixteen in a couple of days, and this is a party like the ones she’s heard about, but never been invited to. And she’s housing it! The music is thumping, people are laughing and dancing, congratulating her on a great performance earlier…
Malik sneaks up behind Taïga who’s bumping around the dance floor to the beat, and starts some of his famous moves. He gives hip hop lessons after school and likes to think of himself as a really smooth operator…
‘Relax… you gotta get your hips into it, hon’.’
Taïga feels a little self-conscious at first, but soon let’s herself relax and follows his lead, feeling the pulse of the beat make her sway in rhythm with Malik.
But Malik can’t help himself, he’s soon spinning on the floor, showing off some killer moves, making Taïga literally back into Ty in her haste to get away from the action.
‘He’s good, huh?’ Ty looks absentmindedly at Malik spinning on the floor, his attention elsewhere.
‘Yeah… A little too good for me…’ she laughs. She follows Ty’s gaze, letting her eyes stray from Malik to a little group of girls. In awe she watches Kayla try to teach Lolita how to twerk.
‘Nononono… Not the legs. It’s all about the hips. You’ve gotta shake what you’ve got! Like this… Up and down. Lean forward. Yeah…’
Taïga longs to give it a try herself, but she’s not comfortable enough… And her butt is too small anyway, she would probably look as stiff and ridiculous as Lolita… Fascinated, she can’t tear her eyes away from Kayla’s wiggling butt, but the curvaceous black girl soon gives up.
Wiping sweat from her brow she dries her cup of beer, ‘Geez. I need something to drink…’
Bloom takes the huge glass bowl and resolutely empties it onto one of the plants.
‘Hey! What are you doing!?!’
‘I can’t get the quantities right if there’s already stuff in it-’
‘You’ve wasted perfectly good orange juice…’
‘Who’s the expert?’ They stare at her. ‘Thought so.’
Kayla stops on her way from the kitchen, and veers into the dining room. ‘Need shoome help?’
‘Are you sure about this? We just had to spike it…’ Darryl scratches his neck as usual when he’s doubtful about something.
‘Yeah. No party without punch.’
‘Yep. She’sh right…’
Tyler rolls his eyes at Kayla who’s already slurring, a beer in one hand, a can of Red Bull in the other.
‘Let’s do this!’ Bloom grabs one of the bottles.
‘Err… Maybe you should unscrew the-’
‘I was going to!’
She starts pouring vodka in the large bowl.
‘Told you we shouldn’t have thrown away the juice…’
‘You’re such a kill joy!’
‘Maybe! But isn’t spiking all about adding liquor to juice, not the other way around?’
Bloom considers the question. ‘We’ve got some fruits-’ She nods towards the box she prepared in the kitchen earlier, ‘-a bottle of Vodka, some rum and tequila…’
‘I’m not sure potatoes, sugar cane and agave are considered “fruit” juices, Bloom,’ Tyler snickers.
Kayla pours resolutely the content of her Red Bull can into the bowl. ‘Voilà!’
‘Al-co-hol killsh ze bacter-ia,’ she slurs…
Darryl leaves them to their bickering. He scoots back to the kitchen in search of something fruity, and returns as Bloom empties the last bottle in the bowl.
‘I found this!’ He waves a dusty dark bottle in the air.
Bloom takes it dubiously. ‘There’s a skull on the label…’
‘Might be a pirate potion!’ Darryl ventures.
‘Well. That’s not exactly what pops into my mind when I see something labeled with a skull.’ Tyler adds.
‘Do as you like. This punch thing wasn’t my idea.’ Darryl puts his hands in his pockets. ‘It smells of fruit anyway…’
Bloom pulls the cork open and inhales. ‘He’s right! It smells… It smells – divine!’ She passes the bottle around so they all can get a whiff.
‘Go ahead and spike it! But quickly, before anyone notices we’ve tampered with it.’
Bloom stares at Tyler, who stares back. ‘What?’
She sighs and turns the bottle upside down. Mud brown liquid pours out of the dusty bottle, and she quickly stops.
‘And now you’ve wasted perfectly good liquor!’ Darryl bursts out.
‘Who brought the damn bottle?’
‘Jusht shtop it and look…’
Upon contact with the liquor in the bowl, the color changes slowly from brown to khaki green to purple and finally it stabilizes, a bright red.
‘Wow! Looks like Red AfterShock!’
‘Maybe it’s radioactive?’
Kayla sticks a finger in and licks it. The others look worriedly at her, searching for signs of acute poisoning. Kayla hiccups and reaches for a red cup. ‘Zish thingamajig punch rocksh!’ she declares.
They all look at each other before gingerly plunging their cups into the tantalizing liquid…
‘Seen Cameron around?’ Charlene straightens her sweatshirt and pushes up her glasses.
‘Nope.’ Jayler doesn’t even look at her, emptying his red cup.
Rod jumps down the last steps, making her gasp, and slides to halt just in front of the keg, ‘He’s upstairs. Wanna do a kegstand?’ he asks hopefully.
‘Thanks, but no thanks, Rod!’
‘… she doesn’t even know I exist… I can’t dance like Malik, I’m not a muscle thug like Jayler and I can’t even play an instrument. And I’ve got red hair…’
‘C’mon, Jarrod. Stop feeling sorry for yourself! I think you’re funny. I mean usually, not now. Oh, forget what I mean.’ Linn looks him over. ‘OK, you don’t work out, but all that work on your farm must have left some trace…’
‘Not as ripped as you think.’ He says morosely. ‘But I am kinda strong, though…’
‘So show her!’
Linn scratches her head. Where is she anyway? It won’t do him any good just standing here looking like this party’s just as fun as a funeral… Geez. Let Ana take over… ‘I’ll be right back!’
‘Have you seen Ana?’
But Ghana doesn’t even listen to Linn, ‘I’m outta here! Just look at them grinding away.’ Ghana watches enviously her best friend dancing with Darryl. Her Darryl!
‘Come on, Ghana. They’re only dancing…’
‘Dancing? You call that dancing? They’re getting it on, right in the middle of the effing dance floor!’
Linn shrugs and heads for the stairs.
There are people everywhere, the large stairs are crowded and she’s got to push through the throng to pass the landing. There’s a constant flow of people going to the bathroom, and Linn understands why when she sees the ice-filled tub bursting with beer bottles. She hails people to ask for Ana, but nobody seems to know her… The door to Taïga’s room is locked, but she can hear muffled sounds when she puts her ear close.
‘You’re creepy…’ a girl says behind her back.
Embarrassed, Linn steps away from the door, ‘I’m looking for someone!’ she blurts out.
The girl looks her over, sipping bright red liquid from a plastic cup.
‘Err… Ana,’ she stammers, ‘Her name’s Ana. Err… The girl I’m looking for.’
‘Thin? Pale? Brownish hair?’
‘She went in there.’ The girl nods towards a closed door on the other, quieter side of the landing.
‘Thanks.’ Linn heads towards Granny’s room and pushes the door open, but thunderstruck she stops on the threshold, staring at the naked couple on the bed. Shocked, she stammers an excuse while backing out and leaning against the closed door, ‘OMG. OMGOMGOMG.’
Leilani calls from the other side of the landing, ‘Oh my Gosh! Was that Charlene?’
Linn pushes away from the door. ‘Yes. I mean no. No, it was not Charlene with that cute pizza guy. It was… I don’t know… Nobody. That’s right. Nobody. OMG.’
With the image of the two naked bodies on a loop in her head, she rushes into the bathroom. She doesn’t know how she gets everyone out of there, but she does, fumbling to lock the door with trembling fingers. Taking a deep breath, she splashes some cold water on her burning cheeks, trying to ignore the persistent hammering on the door…
Zachary tries to straighten the pumpkin on the Venus statue, only succeeding in squishing more juice out of it. Orange rivulets drip along the smooth marble surface, drenching the old statue in syrupy juice, and finally pool on the floor.
‘Yuck… That’s some sticky shit you’re messing around with…’ Darryl looks at his new sneakers, leaving gluey footprints on the floor. ‘Geez… Look at them marks…’
‘That’s just so… so immature!’ Leilani stops and stares at Zach’s chef d’oeuvre.
‘Who’s immature? I’m not the one walking around dressed up like some kind of gothic doll…’ He glares at her. ‘It’s supposed to be a Halloween party and I haven’t seen any decorations so far. It is Halloween tomorrow after all!’
‘Tomorrow? It’s on Monday, duh.’
‘Yeah, well it’s 2 in the morning, dimwitt.’
‘Don’t call me names, asshole!’
‘Don’t bother, Zach. That bitch is a few cans short of a six pack.’ Darryl hands him a cup of punch.
‘I’m not!’ Leilani holds up a 6-pack of Buds.
‘I’m so impressed…’ Zach mimicks and empties the cup Darryl handed him. ‘Geez…’ He grimaces. ‘Where did you get this? It’s… err…’
‘If you wan’t some more you better hurry… Hey, Ibtihal, babe! Wait!’
Kayla watches Darryl catch up with Ibtihal, grabbing her around the waist and nuzzling her neck. ‘I’m gonna be a… a… a vamp… pire. Vampirrre. Yep. Shoo shmexy. You guysh sheard bout’ Sharleeene and Cam… Camrron?’
‘Actually, I’m the one who told her.’ Leilani squeaks excitedly. ‘I actually saw them…’
‘Charlene? Big nose-ears-and-glasses Charlene?’ Jayler says nastily, nonchalantly leaning on the couch. ‘Are you saying you got it on with the Gilbert girl, Zach?’ he adds, taking a sip from his beer.
‘Not me. Cameron did.’ Zach says with a sigh.
Tess tries to listen in on the scoop. Cameron, the pizza guy? Wait until the girls hear about this…
‘Are you sure? I know of Cam’s reputation, but Charlene? Aren’t there enough cute babes around tonight? Or is it a kind of game goin’ on that I don’t know about?’ Jayler stares unbelievingly at Zach.
‘Yeah, right… I heard Linn walked in on the action. Just imagine…’ He sighs wistfully.
‘Err… You think there’s a chance that I could…’ Brandon looks thoughtfully at his beer.
‘Nope! It’s dead, man.’ Zach says icily.
Jayler takes a thoughtful swig from his bottle. Goddamn Cameron showing off… He hasn’t been here for more than a couple of hours and is already getting laid… Shit! Nonchalantly he drops his empty bottle on the floor and heads for the keg…
‘See this, Ana? Muscles from hard work – at the farm. Not just blown up muscles you get from pumping iron at the gym.’
‘Yo! Jayler.’ SimmyC fills another red cup with beer, hailing Jayler who’s just passing by, ‘The redneck here is dissing you!’
‘You’ve got something to say? Looking for trouble?’ Jayler says icily. Smashing someone’s face in would definitely help him let off some steam…
‘I was just saying that real muscles-’
‘Real?’ Jayler flexes his biceps. ‘You mean those aren’t real?’
He takes a step closer to Jarrod. SimmyC smirks, emptying his cup. He’s never liked Jarrod, and a fight would be exciting. He pours himself some more beer from the keg.
Ana wedges in between the two young males. ‘Hey. Nobody dissed anyone. I think-’
Jayler ignores her. ‘There must be something heavy enough in this old dump…’
In the upstairs bathroom, Linn is letting ice cold water splash over her wrists, but her heart is still beating too fast and her cheeks still glow a fiery red when she looks at herself in the mirror. The banging on the door has stopped, and is replaced by people shouting, menacing to kick in the door if she doesn’t open soon. She ignores them.
‘Oh. My. God. What shall I do? I should have stopped Charlene and told her to come with me. No… That would have been stupid. Maybe they’re an item. A couple. The super cute pizza guy must be Charlene’s boyfriend. Yes… That’s the way it is. Charlene has got a boyfriend. A super cute boyfriend…’
She dries her hands on one of the towels lying scattered on the floor.
‘… that she’s never told anyone about.’
She tosses the towel back on the floor and flings the door wide open, almost knocking the person behind it over.
‘What the fuck? Chill, man…’
Kayla and Lolita are twerking again, to the joy of the guys who bother watching.
Madison stumbles in, ‘Geez just look at those two! Can he stick his tongue deeper down her throat… Ohmygod! I just love this song! Oups! Sorry! Dang lamp!’
‘You’re too wasted to dance, Madison!’ Lolita steadies her with a grip on her arm.
‘Am not! I got this. I just had a… no two! Or was it err…? Whatever… delicious cups of waddaya call it? Punch! Just a couple of… of cups of punch!
‘Yeah. She’sh jush shuperrealaxed. Only way to get you shkinny white bitchesh shake your booty all right…’
‘Yeah! Heard her, Lolita? Watch this…’
‘Watch that!’ Tess nods towards Malik and Taïga dancing together again. ‘Seems like Charlene’s not the only one getting laid tonight…’
‘Are you crazy?’
Kayla nods in agreement. ‘Leilaaani shaw them.’
‘Yeah.’ Tess doesn’t even bother lowering her voice, ‘She sneaked upstairs with Cameron, the cute pizza guy, and they…’
‘… and I just saw her covered in hickeys!’ she finishes triumphantly.
Charlene, who just arrived downstairs, stops dead and backs away. Blinded by tears she pushes her way out…
Malik comes on a little too strong in Taïga’s taste and she tells him to back off.
‘Hey… You don’t know what you’re missing out on…’ He blows her a kiss and sways over to hit on Kayla…
‘I guess I’ll survive…’ Taïga mutters.
Tyler draws on his cigarette. ‘Moron?’
‘Nah. Just trying his luck.’
‘There you are! I’ve been looking everywhere for you!’ Linn tugs on Taïga’s arm and starts whispering in her ear.
‘Wait, Linn. Slow down a bit…’ Taïga pales as Linn tells her what happened upstairs.
‘… so we’ve got to do something!’
‘Linn, calm down. Did he try to rape her?’
‘Err… No. At least I don’t think so. She seemed to enjoy herself…’
‘She’s sixteen. If he wasn’t forcing himself on her-’
Ty breaks in. ‘I know Cam. He’s something of a babe magnet. Screws around a lot, but he’s a good guy. He’d never force her.’
Both Linn and Taïga burst out in unison, ‘Don’t tell anyone!’
‘Err… No. Why should I? It’s their business after all.’
The girls stare at him, then at each other, feeling ashamed.
‘Well… I guess you’re right. It didn’t look like he was raping her… She was actually kinda pushing him back and he was kinda under-’
Taïga’s attention is drawn by Ghana doing a double take when she spots her best friend making out on the couch with Darryl.
‘Uh-oh. I hope there won’t be any trouble…’
‘Why?’ Tyler asks, ‘Is Ghana also… Aw, shit man!’
Disgusted Ghana takes a step forward, but changes her mind and frays a passage out of the packed room.
‘For a moment there, I thought she’d jump them.’ Linn murmurs.
‘Yeah… But knowing Ghana, she’ll cook something up for Ibtihal later. Vengeance is a plate-’
‘-best served cold!’ Linn finishes. ‘I’m glad she didn’t start a scene here though…’
‘Err… I think Bloom’s not feeling too well…’ Taïga pushes away from the wall.
‘Hey! You promised to dance with me!’ Ty calls after her.
‘I’ll be right back!’
‘Wait for me!’ Linn hurries after her best friend.
Brandon opens a new can of Bud’s. ‘Move over, Zach.’ He lowers his voice, concentrating on articulating. ‘Heard Darryl brought some ace weed…’
‘But I need to go to the John!’ Rod wails.
‘Well, you’ll have to wait. Just go upstairs.’
‘Yeah,’ Roxanne adds, ‘Or outside!’
Rod turns on his heels and Linn cries after him, ‘Not outside! Please!’
Roxanne smirks, peeking into the bathroom. ‘Ugh… Disgusting…’ Pinching her delicate nose, she catches uo with Rod. ‘Hey, you! You’re a guy – go outside! Leave the bathroom to us girls!’
Linn sighs. ‘How are you doing in there? Is she OK?’
‘Not really,’ Taïga mumbles, ‘she’s had one too many of I don’t know what…’
‘Fuckin’ frooots…’ Bloom whispers and vomit is spurting out of her.
‘Sheesh… Try to aim!’ Taïga holds Bloom’s sweaty forehead, trying to keep the inebriated young girl’s blond hair out of the way while she empties her stomach. She tries not to watch, but grimaces as a wave of nausea washes over her. Turning her head away from the revolting sight, she tries to focus her attention on counting the white tiles on the wall…
‘… and my best friend is making out with my boyfriend…’
Zachary‘s eyes are watering as he slowly blows out smoke. ‘Here.’
Ghana reaches for the joint. ‘And the worst part… is that he’s not even my boyfriend!’
‘Oh… That’s gross…’
‘Yeah…’ Ghana draws deeply and hands it back.
Zach snivels, ‘Charlene… I mean, she’s so sweet… Can’t believe she handed it out to… to… Cam.’
Zach nods and blinks.
‘C’mon, Zach. You’re such a dork! Why don’t you tell her you’re in love with her?’
‘Because I’m not… Err… I just want to get laid.’
‘C’mon, Bloom. I’ll help you to my room so you can lay down a while…’
‘I’m sooo sorry… This can’t be good for the baby…’ Bloom hiccups and throws up again.
Suddenly there’s a low rumbling from upstairs, quickly changing into the deafening sound of the piano bumping down the stairs, followed by screaming and a loud crash.
Taïga leaves Bloom hugging the toilet, and hurries towards the commotion…
‘I almost got killed!’
‘Did you see that?’
‘That was ace, man!’
Angrily she pushes her way through the buzzing mass of curious onlookers, until she can see the cause of the excitement.
‘What the fuck!?!’
Tilted dangerously, the grand piano is standing askew the stairs, surrounded by a gaping crowd.
Jarrod looks sheepishly at Taïga, ‘We didn’t mean to push it this far, we just wanted to see if we could move it and then it just- Well, happened.’
Taïga swallows. How on earth will she explain this to Granny? She could probably lift it with magic, but not as long as there’s people in the house… Thank God nobody seems to be hurt… She closes her eyes and tries to concentrate, but everyone’s talking at the same time, excited by the danger and the sheer foolishness of it all. Ana is staring adoringly at Jarrod, who’s suddenly become the man of the party. In desperate need of calm to think things over, she frays a way to the study…
‘Whoa… Can you do that again?’
‘C’mon man, it’s gonna be aight!’
She pushes the door to her grandmother’s study open in search of some calm and quiet, but stops on the threshold. She can hardly distinguish the people squatting in the armchairs and on the floor through the grey haze of sweet smelling smoke. Beer bottles and empty cups scatter the floor together with bongs and other drug paraphernalia, and she can see lots of watermark rings left on the polished surface of Granny’s cherished 18th century desk. The tidy, solemn study looks like a drug squat…
Someone puts a red cup in her hand as they pushes past. Without thinking she lifts it to her mouth and drains the content.
‘I need a bong high…’ Lolita squeezes past her into the room. ’Or at least a smoke.’
‘Hey… You seem in need to unwind some…’ Rod looks Taïga over from his position slumped on the floor. ‘Want some? Darryl brought some good stuff…’ He motions with his head to sit down on the floor next to him, holding out his spliff.
She takes it, a little hesitantly. ‘Like this?’ Taïga draws on the joint. Imitating Lolita she tries to draw the smoke down as far as possible, but her eyes start watering and her body is racked by coughs.
‘Hey…’ Tyler drops down next to her. ‘You shouldn’t smoke. It’s bad for your voice.’ He admonishes, patting her back.
Taïga closes her eyes, fighting a wave of nausea. ‘I… I think I’m going to throw up.’
Tyler helps her up, and followed by Rod’s snickering, he ushers her outside.
‘Go away…’ she says feebly, stumbling into the bushes.
‘Are you sure? I’ll wait for you over there…’ hesitantly he withdraws, hands in his pockets.
Taïga doesn’t answer, seized by terrible cramps she empties her stomach.
‘It might be a good idea to cut the music…’
‘The music! Turn it down!’ Sprinkler whispers from in the bushes. ‘The neighbors have called the guards, and they’ll be here any minute! Listen!’
Eyes watering, Taïga dry retches. ‘I don’t care. I just want to die,’ she sobs.
The wailing sound of sirens approach.
‘Shit! Someone’s called the cops!’ Tyler falls on his knees next to her. ‘Are you OK? They’ll want to talk to you, but you’re in no condition right now. Keep your head down.’
Taïga pushes away his arm and tries to stand up. ‘It’s my responsibility,’ she stutters.
‘You asked for this,’ Sprinkler mutters, and mumbles something. The world spins and Taïga loses consciousness.
Linn talks to the policeofficers, who swiftly puts an end to the partying. As soon as the teens get wind about the cops they dash through the back door and the French windows, emptying the premises in a matter of minutes and scattering into the night.
The cops don’t arrest anyone, but they stay by the cars, seeing to it the people getting behind the wheels aren’t inebriated.
Taïga comes to in the arms of Tyler, who’s carrying her up the stairs to the front porch. She startles, making Tyler lose his grip.
‘Ouch!’ she slams onto the deck.
‘I’m sorry! Are you all right?’
She rubs her aching bottom, accepting his gesture to drag her to her feet, ‘Yeah… I guess so… What happened? Where’s everyone?’
Linn hugs her. ‘Someone called the cops. I guess your gram’s will find out after all…’
Taïga recalls the wailing of the sirens. She slides to the floor, her back against the door. ‘OhmyGod…’
Linn sits next to her, ‘Yeah, seems there was a complaint from a neighbor. Too much noise-’
‘But we ain’t got no neighbors?’ Taïga interrupts, ‘I mean, who could have heard us?’
Tyler adds, ‘You’re right. There’s not a soul living within at least a mile…’
‘… so it must have been someone else…’
‘… someone who was already here!’
‘Yeah… But who?’
‘Heyyy! Wher’sh the paaarty movd to?’
‘Bloom!?! Wait! Watch out!’
Too late. Bloom has already started down the stairs. Concentrating on keeping her glass of wine straight, she stumbles halfway, and with a crash comes tumbling to the floor.
‘OhmyGod! Is she dead?’ Linn hiccups, while Tyler rushes over to check on her.
Taïga scrambles after him, her mind totally blank.
‘Oooh shit…’ Bloom grunts.
‘Thank God!’ Taïga expires loudly. She hadn’t even been aware of holding her breath.
‘Ahm shoo shorry, Taï. I guesh I blowed it…’ Bloom wails, ‘Ahh shpilled red all over… over… I wanna go home!’
‘How are you feeling?’
Bloom tries to sit up. ‘I wanna partyyyy!’
‘I’ll take her home.’ Ty says, passing his arm around Bloom’s back to help her up.
‘Are you sure?’
‘Yeah, I’m sober…’ He doesn’t tell about the punch, it was only a glass anyway and his head feels totally clear…
Taïga nods. The three of them succeed in getting Bloom onto her feet and into the back seat of Tyler’s turquoise old Buick.
‘It’s OK. I’ll take it from here.’ He jumps in behind the wheel, and before the door slams shut they catch him saying to Bloom, ‘If you throw up in my car…’
The girls walk back into the manor. Without a word Taïga takes in the disaster, but she can’t hold her tears back when she grasps the whole situation.
In a corner of the living room, dumped amongst pizza boxes, overflowing ashtrays and empty cups, SimmyC sits slumped on a chair. One arm draped over his beloved boom box balancing dangerously on his knees, and a bottle of Bud’s loosely held in the other hand, he’s snoring lightly, unaware that the party’s long over.
‘There’s no way we can stay here tonight, Taïga. Let’s sleep at my place, and come back tomorrow and take care of this mess…’
Taïga nods. ‘What about Simmy? We can’t just leave him here…’
‘Go and get an overnight bag while I wake him up. He lives not far from my place, we’ll drop him off on the way…’
The girls sneak into Linn’s house and up the stairs without Jesper nor Viktor awakening. But Taïga is too worked up to rest. She walks to and fro, talking nonstop to her friend about her worries.
On top of it all, her head is aching and her mouth dry. She stops rambling and closing her eyes, she leans her throbbing head against the cool windowpane…
‘Go get a Tylenol. Viktor always keeps some in the downstairs bathroom. If we’re to clean the whole house, we’ll need some sleep first…’
Taïga nods. ‘I’m sorry for all this…’
‘It’s not your fault, Taïga. I was there too…’
Taïga sneaks downstairs again. The Tylenol is where Linn said, and she gulps it down with some water from the tap. On her way back she stops dead at the sight of Jesper and Viktor almost naked in the kitchen… She gasps, making Jesper startle and turn around.
‘I was sure we had some whipped cream left…’ unaware of Taïga, Viktor continues rummaging through the shelves in the fridge, exposing his bare butt.
Jesper elbows him, clearing his throat.
‘Err… Hi…’ Taïga forces a smile, trying without success not to blush.
‘We didn’t know you were sleeping over?’
‘Yeah… Err… Me neither… I mean…’
Viktor raises an eyebrow inquiringly.
She searches for a plausible answer, all the while struggling to keep her eyes from straying towards Viktor’s pink, silk clad crotch. ‘I had a headache, so…’
‘We’ve got some Tylenol in the bathroom.’ Viktor says helpfully.
Taïga nods, ‘Yeah. I just took one. So. Err… Have a nice evening.’
Blushing furiously she hurries away. Have a nice evening? Geez! Where do I get all those subtle comments from?
But Viktor and Jesper have already other, more important, matters on their mind.
Linn is already asleep when she gets back upstairs. Taïga pulls the curtains wide open so she can look out at Falls Harbor’s skyline. She lies awake, staring at the multitude of lights of the city until, finally, she falls asleep.
Linn wakes her too early the next morning, and after only a couple of hours sleep, they discreetly leave without seeing Viktor and Jesper. Taïga is releived for that, she can still see Viktor in his almost naked splendor when she closes her eyes… Please, please don’t let me run into Arthur if ever he sleeps over…
‘Nothing, I must have thought aloud.’ She yawns. ‘Do you really think we’ll get the house straight before Granny comes back tonight?’
‘I’m absolutely positive!’ Linn says, adding under her breath, ‘We better do…’
The morning rushes past. The trash bags are soon overflowing with empty bottles, red plastic cups and rubbish off all kind. They scrub, vacuum and dust…
The washing machine in the basement is first filled with dirty sheets, and then again with stinking curtains…
Linn has some doubts about the whole washing thing. ‘Are you sure we can tumble the curtains? Don’t you think it’s better to take them to the dry cleaner’s?’
‘We don’t have time to be careful, Linn.’ Taïga hates to admit it, but she thinks her friend might be right…
They go through room after room, cleaning and scrubbing; the bedrooms and the kitchen, the study and the living room. Linn hoovers and Taïga sorts the waste…
‘Gimme a hand, Taïga! The dang thing is stuck!’ Linn is struggling to get the pumpkin off from Venus’ head.
Together they lift the heavy pumpkin from the Venus statue, trying to avoid getting stained…
They hoover, wipe all surfaces and mop the floor… But even after getting the house more or less back to its former state, there’s still no way to clean the armchairs and sofas. The fancy old fashioned settees are covered in cigarette burns, bong spills, tomato sauce, red wine stains and God knows what else…
But all this is nothing compared to cleaning the bathrooms…
‘Ick… I can’t believe what people do when they’re wasted… I’ll never get this clean…’ Linn moans.
‘Let’s switch! I’ll let you unclog the toilet…’ Taïga says hopefully.
‘No way! Well. I think I’ll need some more Handy Andy, anyway… I’ll be right back!’
‘Where is that dang gnome when you need him?’ Taïga mutters. With her face screwed up in disgust, she squirts more bleach into the toilet, before grabbing a brush and briskly starting to scrub.
‘Yeah, I know. I should wear gloves…’ She stares down the bowl. ‘Bleh! Still clogged…’
Angrily she grabs the plunger and violently starts over again, vigorously pushing and pulling, swearing under her breath.
Sprinkler is watching from what he thinks is a safe distance, but a sudden movement of a bird outside the window catches Taïga’s sight. Don’t move, she mouths to the little gnome, stomping out of the bathroom.
Sprinkler has at least the decency to be ashamed.
‘I guess I made a pig’s ear of things…’ Contrite he looks at her, cap in hand. ‘Things might have gotten a little out of hand…’
Taïga draws in her breath, and lets it out again. Slowly.
‘Aye. I thought we would have a whale of a time, throwing a house party. I saw on the Internet, you see, and-’
‘Just stop explaining, Sprinkler.’ She pushes a strand of hair from her face, ‘Just please don’t do anything like this again. Please?’
He mutters something inaudible.
Taïga starts walking back inside, but stops. ‘Wait a minute. The Internet?’
‘Err…’ He puts his cap back on. ‘Aye… The Social Medias, you know. Facebook, twitter, snapchat…’
She stares at him.
‘Your secret codes are too easy,’ he blurts out, ‘you should definitely change them.’
‘I will kill you for this!’ She throws herself at him, but of course he vanishes, and she only fumbles thin air. ‘We shall have a talk about this! Do you hear me!?!’
‘We will yea!’ his voice echoes from somewhere behind her, followed by a maniacal giggle.
Slowly she stands up from the huge mound of bags filled with garbage, and brushes dust from her knees. Must regain my composure… She starts to walk away, head high, counting to herself. … four… five… Don’t let him get to you… six… seven….
‘I can help you clean up…’
‘NO! You’ll only screw things up – again!’ she whirls around, all thoughts about staying cool and aloft forgotten.
Sprinkler fumbles with his sunglasses, looking at his feet and Taïga almost feels sorry for him, regretting her harsh words. ‘It’s gonna be OK. We’ve got the situation under control with Linn. Just stay out of sight…’
‘Aye!’ Sprinkler smiles happily and puts his sunglasses back on, ‘Oh. And your friend –the girl with glasses- she chickened out. Left the poor boy with a hard-’
Taïga silences him with a gesture. ‘How do you know about this?’
‘Well. I might just as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb,’ he mumbles. ‘Ahem. I just happened to be on the balcony, getting some fresh air, ye see…’
‘I can’t believe this…’ she screws up her eyes and frowns at him, ‘You were watching?’
‘Not exactly. I didn’t catch everything – those screen doors are really hard to see through!’
‘You are the creepiest-’
‘Taïga? Where are you?’
Sternly she stares at the little gnome, ‘This conversation isn’t over. Do you read me? Is. Not. Over.’
She doesn’t wait for an answer, but angrily stomps back in. ‘Coming!’
After scrubbing and bagging bottles and empty cups the whole morning, they decide to take a break.
‘When did you say your Grams will be back tonight?’
‘Around 8 p.m…’
‘Good, it leaves us the whole afternoon to hang up the curtains again, and stuff…’
‘I’m just worried about the furniture. I mean, I can explain some stains on one sofa, but not on all of them…’
‘Yeah… Your grams will totally flip out when she sees her armchairs in the study! They are totally ruined…’
Part II – End of Chapter 36