The car slowed at a large impressive home, swiveled into the driveway and through retracting garage doors. At the time, I believed it was Belle’s family’s home given access to the garage. When the car halted, and the garage closed behind, I began to worry. We entered a space more grandiose than its exterior and much too extravagant for a student party. I’d expected a swarming home of college students, not silent halls. I thought we were the first to arrive until distant voices emanated from remote spaces. Toward the back, Belle led me inside a room of sparse guest and delivered me to a man with graying temples and a receding hairline. “This is Allison.” She smiled a knowing grin, touched me on the shoulder and said, “Pennington will take care of you,” and vanished, leaving me in a room of mismated young women and older men. Belle abandoned me to a secret society. And from their stares, I sensed I was the evening’s main course.
The fiftyish looking man smiled, led me to a stool around the bar, signaled to the bartender, and placed a mixed brew in my hand. A delicate flute with a cobalt rim contained a drink much too sweet—sugared I assumed to conceal alcoholic potency. After the first drink, he refreshed my glass with more of the intoxicating liquid. Soon, strangely disoriented, figures blurred, my body, a distant island, appeared detached from my head. An urgent need to flee swept over me. Then Pennington refreshed my drink, his fingers stroke my arm as if sampling a delicate fabric. I smiled and glanced away, sensing his eyes on my body. He whispered, “Don’t be afraid, everyone’s here to have fun. Just relax.” Then I felt his hand on my thigh. Incensed with disgust, I pushed him away and staggered from the room in search of Belle.
Stumbling through the home, I wandered upstairs on invisible legs, floating with a giddy high arriving at the landing. Down the hall, voices echoed from a room. Desperate to find Belle, I moved on vaporous legs toward the door, managing to twist the knob with fading hands. Several blurred images wavered into view, shadows I couldn’t distinguish. Like a camera lens, my mind snapped shut and opened the next morning—the previous night a blank canvas. Several months later, images, like snapshots, reemerged.
I’ve never determined how many people were in that room. And with time, I’ve wondered if inebriation multiplied figures in my sight. Though never certain, I’m convinced something evil took place in that room. Perhaps my beliefs are instinctive or a prompt from buried memories. I assume resultant amnesia is a shield, protecting me from heinous horrors. With a deep sigh, I retrieve my mobile from the nightstand. And as I’ve anticipated, my anonymous sender’s address appears. Without pause, I tap the email. Bold, small-capped letters leap into view.
Do you remember what happened at 1414 Kalorama Road?
Coming Summer 2017