Pete Weber

House Party

About 3am we were awoken by a strange voice in our bedroom, voices actually, a conversation, several people tiptoeing up the stairs and something being dragged, thunking on the stairs as it went. I reached over and turned on the light and saw a large head trying to poke through the balustrades. “We’re lookin’ for Phil, are you Phil?”, I thought I heard him say in a wet whisper, slobbering on the upright spokes of wood. Squinting through the fog, though it had receded enough for me to realize that there were more behind him.

“What the …?”, as I got up from the bed. “Phil said there was a party, so we came, I got some Absent…”, now in a soft monotone, “Sorry we woke you up, Phil”

“No, I’m not Phil and I would really like it if you could please turn around and go back down the stairs and out the way you came in!” “What time is it?!“ And how in the hell did you get in here?”, now at the top of the stairs looking down at three puzzled faces I had never before laid eyes on.

The first one, Len, I’ll call him, was relatively large and a bit slow in his movements, at least he didn’t seem to be moving very quickly back down the stairs, so I addressed those behind him, “C’mon people, let’s go, there’s no party in here, see?” “There’s been some mistake, nobody here named Phil, see? “Do we look like we’re having a party?”

So Len turns around and looks down at the skinny guy behind him and I hear whispers further down the stairs like, “It’s not Phil”, or “Where’s Phil?”

I take a step down the stairs, Glenda is awake now and asking me what they’re doing here, but she knows about as much as I do. Len says to me, a little louder now, somewhat contrite as those further down the stairs have already turned and started back down, “Then we should go, right? You not having a party and we gotta go?” His lower lip jutting out a little, and spit at the corners of his mouth. “That’s right.”, I say, “You got it now.” So he shrugs his shoulders and lets out a deflated, “Oh…” Then, dragging his payload, or what looks like a Salvation Army rattan suitcase, he turns and follows his friends.

On the second floor, plodding along behind Len, who insists on dragging this oversized valise, which I am sure he could easily lift if he wanted to. Or is it that his arms are too long, that he actually is carrying it? “That’s right, let’s go, you guys have the wrong house, nobody here named Phil, no party…”

I notice a young lady waiting at the top of the stairs. The group directly behind Len is already headed down, and I’m still behind Len (there’s no getting past him), but she seems to be waiting and looking at me like she wants to ask me something. All the lights on the second floor are on and my son is nowhere in sight. I think this should have gotten him up out of bed by now, so I’m a bit concerned.

As Len navigates the stairs I’m looking at a pair of vacant ice-blue eyes on a young woman with long black snakey hair, sorta like dreadlocks and she’s got this tattoo the same color as her eyes running along her arm under the cutoff sleeve of her sweatshirt and circling her navel. She mumbles something to me about her tummy.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t quite get that, could you say that again?” As I lean in to hear her and gently nudge her elbow so that she will also head down the stairs, I smell gardenias and as she starts to speak I also smell the liquor on her breath. “Do you have something for my tummy?” She says dreamily. And she takes my other hand and places it on her, well,… tummy. She has a nice tummy, and I am flustered, derailed, all of a sudden off task and in the moment. “Well, your tummy, no I don’t have, …, for the tummy…”,or some such I blather, as Glenda makes it through the doorway of the landing from the third floor just in time.

“What are you doing?” says the weary and bewildered Glenda.

“She has a tummy problem.” I say. “She said something about her tummy.”

“So give her some Rolaids and send her home!” “No… why don’t you go find out where John is, and if the rest of the house is still here, I’ll take care of … her. And she shoos me down the stairs and leads the young woman into the bathroom.

I find Johnny asleep on the couch in the living room with all the lights on. The TV is on with the sound blaring, and there are a couple of kids standing in front of it in a trance, watching an infomercial. “Come on guys”, I whine, “there’s no party here, you got the wrong house.” And they snap out of it and look at me as it to say, “Huh?”  I escort them to the front door which is wide open, the dog curled quietly next to it.

Glenda comes down the stairs with Ms. Tummy in tow, looking frazzled, mutters in my ear, “Don’t know what she’s on…” And as we lead the young lady to the door, she presses up against me, takes my hand and places it on her abdomen again and mumbles, “Thanks”, in a wash of vapors,  and wobbles out the door.

*Pete Weber:
“Currently re-learning how to function without owning a wheeled vehicle following an automotive unpleasantry.”

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