Lucy and the House Party
“Hey, lawn guy, what are you up to tonight?”
I was fifteen years old and the year was 2005. My mom got me a job cutting grass, for six dollars an hour, and while the heat sucked, and the pay sucked, nothing beat seeing Lucy Atwell tanning on the back deck of her parent’s suburban paradise split-level on a picturesque Summer day.
But I didn’t know what to say.
At least not at first. Lucy was every bit eighteen years old and beautiful. Long blonde hair. Light, dreaming blue eyes. Rounded hips and perfectly luscious lips. Her clothes always matched and her skin even seemed to glow under the hot summer sun.
And that was the funny thing.
Girls like Lucy never even bothered to speak to guys like me. I thought it more likely she might yell at me for staring. I knew my mom and sister would smack me on the head for that. A real man would show more respect. A real man would keep his eyes on his work. My mother knew Lucy’s mother, casually, because they both shopped at the same department stores. Could you imagine the embarrassment? And yet Lucy never seemed to mind.
“I’m having a party. Nothing too crazy. Twelve kids max.”
She stood up and leaned over the deck railings to shout down to me. Nowhere to hide.
“Did you hear me? I said I’m having a party.”
I cut the engine and stared back sheepishly. Lucy smiled.
“Nobody too crazy. Ten to twelve kids max. My Mom and Dad are going to be out of town but I don’t want to take the risk that some asshole breaks their shit.”
“Okay, as in…?”
“Okay, as in, I’ll see you at ten!”
Lucy smiled. A perfectly symmetrical row of white teeth shone down from the deck. Seeing that smile directed at me felt like hitting the lottery.
That was it. I was in.
I had to hide my excitement over the party throughout the rest of the day. I couldn’t tell my friends for risk of one of them blowing it up. I couldn’t tell my parents for risk of one of them keeping me at home. My mother expected an excuse for her admittedly young teen leaving the house for the night. I told her I was sleeping at a friend’s house. That usually worked. I made sure to choose a friend who’s parents she didn’t like, which increased my odds of her not calling, and the gamble paid off.
At 8:00, I left home and walked to the nearby McDonalds alone. I ordered a soda and grabbed a table by the window. I watched the rain envelope our small town to pass the time. I waited there for an hour and a half. I left for Lucy’s at 9:30 on the dot.
The walk took me twenty minutes down a lonesome route through the woods lined with spacious McMansions. And as soon as I turned onto her street, aptly named Atwell Avenue, it became clear that this would not be a small house party. Cars lined the one-way block up and down. Music blared from somewhere in the basement. The chatter of excited voices made their way all the way to the street.
At 10:00, I knocked on the door and noticed that it was already pushed open.
The wood frame cracked back slowly to reveal a scene of chaos. Two teenagers I didn’t recognize were making out on the couch. Two more watched awkwardly with their beers. A couple kids were smoking cigarettes in the kitchen, and at that very moment, I never felt more out of my element in my young life.
I wanted to ask one of the wasted watchers where Lucy could be. But before I could, a shadow rushed up from behind and wrapped her arms around my shoulder. I turned around to see Lucy’s perfect teeth inches from mine. And before I could say a word, before I could do anything, she kissed me.
I couldn’t believe it.
Lucy smiled. Nothing else in the room mattered to me.
“Because I wanted to.”
Her phone buzzed.
“Oh shit, hold on, this could be my parents.”
I let go of the breath staying stuck in my lungs.
“Okay. Hi, by the way.”
“Hi,” she smiled while staring at the text populating her screen. “C’mon. Not tonight.”
“This guy has been bothering me all week. Look.”
Lucy pushed her old flip phone in front of my face. The excitement drained out of my red face quickly. I had to squint to see the messages. The number was not saved.
10:10: Come outside.
“Who is he?”
“I don’t know. Some creep that won’t leave me alone,” she paused. “This happens to girls a lot, Matt, more than you think.”
“The only person that texts me is my mom and Matt Heller.”
“Who is Matt Heller?”
“Your best friend is named Matt, too?”
“I didn’t say best.”
“Well he’s the only one who texts you.”
“What happened with the creep?”
Lucy lost her smile when she returned to her phone.
“He’s mad he’s not invited to the party.”
The phone lit up with another message.
10:16: Word travels fast.
Lucy gasped. I looked around the room. Nobody looked back.
10:16: How could you?
10:17: I told you there would be consequences.
The phone would not stop vibrating.
10:16: Come outside.
10:16: Better hurry.
10:17: I told Tommy. The poor can’t live much longer with a broken heart.
10:18: Maybe I’ll just cut it out for him.
And then it stopped.
“What consequences?” I asked nervously. “Who’s Tommy?”
Lucy looked like she wanted to cry.
“My crazy ex.”
“Could this be him?”
“No. No… he’s on vacation… this isn’t even his number…”
“We should call the police.”
“There’s alcohol. We’re all underage. I’ll get in trouble…”
“We need to call the police. Or your parents. I don’t know. This is scary. Kick them out if you’re worried about getting in trouble.”
Lucy stared at me blankly. Then she nodded and started to shout for people to get out. The four grungy looking kids on the couch immediately escaped through the front door. Ten to twenty more soon piled out from the basement and kitchen. Lucy continued her shrill scream as the last one of them, a chubby guy with a dingy soul patch, hustled his way out.
10:23: I hope you’re home alone now.
10:24: I bet some of those kids have never ever seen a dead body before.
10:25: Do you think they saw the one in the ditch where you had your first kiss?
“What the hell…”
Lucy made it halfway through the house before I finally decided to follow her. The screen door pulled open and shut rhythmically ahead of me. My feet slipped a few times on the sticky kitchen floor as I sprinted out and down the backyard deck to catch her.
But I was too slow.
Lucy’s screams from somewhere in the backyard sent a shiver down my spine and adrenaline pumping through my veins.
“Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.”
I reached the bottom of the deck stairs and turned to sprint on the slick grass. I fell and my chin made contact with the concrete. Fresh blood rushed down my shirt to mix in with the mud. But I got up and kept going. Because sitting in the bed of a small drainage ditch fifty yards away was the shape of a large body in a sweatshirt. And Lucy would not stop crying.
“Oh my God. Is he dead? Please tell me he isn’t dead.”
I rushed up and wrapped my arms around her shivering frame. I tried to pull her away. She shouldn’t see this, I thought, but she wanted to. I fought with her wiry frame before she freed herself from my arms. And so I stood there stupidly instead.
Tommy, or at least the shape of Tommy, looked like any other kid in my town. A grey local State football hoodie sat on thin shoulders. Black track pants covered his legs. He had a wrist watch that suggested he probably came from a family with money. The only distinguishing factor was the large gash on his forehead leaked a river of blood over his eyes.
“Oh my God. Is he dead? Please tell me he isn’t dead.”
“I don’t know.”
“Well we have to check.”
“Did you call the police?”
I turned around to pull out my cell phone. I often wonder what would have happened if I didn’t get distracted. Because the next few seconds passed by in a flash. Lucy rushed forward to check on Tommy. I tried to shout for her to get back. But it was too late.
The shape in the ditch leapt up like a comic book character the second she got too close. He had a knife in his hand. He stuck the blade so deep inside Lucy’s stomach… the poor didn’t even have a chance to scream. Her body collapsed next to him inside the ditch.
Tommy looked at me curiously for a second. I couldn’t say a word. I couldn’t feel air in my lungs enough to speak. I couldn’t feel my legs enough to move. He raised the knife casually against his own neck casually. He whispered;
“If I can’t have her, nobody can.”
And then he slit his own throat.
The police arrived two minutes and forty seconds too late.
Both of them were already dead.