It was February when Wendy and Cindy drove to the Westwood Banquet Center for an evening of fun sponsored by the faculty and staff at Cindy’s junior high school. Wendy wished Elliott could be there, but he flew to San Francisco for see an art show a friend of his entered
Wendy and Cindy looked sporty in their wide legged hip huggers and printed tops. They were ready to indulge in a kick back evening.
As soon as they entered a teacher friend of Cindy’s walked over to them to say hi. A musical combo sat in a corner…one guy on the guitar and the other on the piano accompanied by a woman singer. Although a crowded room Wendy and Cindy found two seats at a small table. Each table had a bowl of popcorn. Wendy watched as a young woman with long, brown hair, in a stunning black sheath dress, added more popcorn to bowls. Wendy wasn’t hungry, but Cindy crunched away.
Several minutes later a woman screamed. She stood next to a wall and attempted to climb it. The music stopped when someone else screamed. Without warning, Cindy slipped from her seat down onto the concrete floor. Wendy kneeled next to her as Cindy yelled, “Get the ants off me.” Wendy told her there were no ants on her, but Cindy screamed and cried, “There are, there are.”
The room spiraled into chaos. She stood Cindy up, holding onto her as she collected their belongings. Unstrung and scared Wendy rushed Cindy out of the building and drove to the local hospital. When they got to the emergency room there were already many people from the party screaming and crying.
A nurse placed Cindy onto a bed in an ER alcove, and she gave her something to calm her. Wendy shook. She asked the nurse what happened, she told Wendy they weren’t sure yet. Wendy sat on a chair near Cindy. Twenty minutes later Cindy awoke groggy and remained silent. Wendy stood next to her.
“How are you?”
Before Cindy could answer the nurse came back to check on her. She reported all these people were experiencing the results of taking ecstasy. It was a hallucinogen often in liquid form.
“Oh, shit!” Wendy exploded.
“The test results were positive,” the nurse said.
“From where?” Cindy mumbled.
“We don’t know for sure. It was in powder form so probably in something you ate.”
Wendy remembered the woman in the black sheath adding popcorn to the bowls. She knew the drugs were in them since Cindy didn’t eat anything else. “How awful,” Wendy scowled. She realized how lucky she was not to have eaten any of them. “All those people, what a horrid thing to do.”
Cindy became more awake. “It was so terrible I can’t even tell you. Ants were climbing up my arms and I kept swatting them away.”
“I know. I told you there weren’t any, but you didn’t believe me. I’m so sorry. How do you feel now?”
“I wanna go home.”
Wendy went to find a nurse but returned with a doctor who checked Cindy out and gave her the okay to leave. Wendy helped her down from the bed. Wendy drove to Cindy’s in silence where she spent the night, just to be sure Cindy remained okay.
The next morning, they discussed the evening. Wendy told Cindy about the sexy woman in the black sheath.
“I don’t remember seeing her. Everything is such a blur.”
“You should take it easy today. I need to go.”
Wendy changed out of the nightgown Cindy loaned her and back into her own clothes. “I’ll call you later.”
“Okay, and thanks.”
At the nursery Wendy told Carol what happened. “I’m horrified.”
“I know, me too.” Wendy felt some relief from the anguish since The Shade House smelled so fresh, more so than usual. At that moment Wendy appreciated the lushness and the serenity it gave her. After a short stroll Wendy returned to her office and turned on the radio. The news of the party came out. She turned off the radio. She didn’t need any reminders.
After dinner Wendy headed for Pirate’s Cove and sat at the piano bar. Cindy wasn’t there, but she told Wendy she would be coming. Brad sang Johnny Nash’s, “I Can See Clearly Now,” as he looked at Wendy with some concern. The song dealt with having a bright day. Wendy shook her head. Brad saw it and held a quizzical expression. When he finished the song, it ended the set. Wendy briefly explained about Cindy. At the end of his break Cindy appeared and stood next to Wendy. She hooked eyes with Brad, who nodded at her with a contemplative stare, saying I know, and I hope you’re okay.
At Brad’s next break, Cindy joined him in a corner.
Wendy waited, curious about what he said.
“He’s coming over tomorrow,” Cindy smiled. “He’s very interested in hearing all the details. He really cares about me, he’s such a great guy.” Cindy’s eyes sparkled.
Soon after, Wendy left.
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