Downtown is cold, colder then back home on the island. I make my way around three short blocks, reaching 5th avenue where my friend Jeff lives. He doesn’t have a phone so I stand under his apartment building and yell his name, he lives eight floors up but if he’s home he can hear me.
The previous night, our friend Nehemiah punched a hole through his window.I wait a few minutes, the elevator doors open, Jeff walks towards me. He laughs at my ridiculous entrance but says he had expected me to stop by at some point. We ride the elevator up eight floors and enter his apartment; there are a few other people there, no one I know.
I introduce myself to a few people and then move to the kitchen where Jeff is cooking instant turkey stuffing on his stove. It smells horrible but I smile and help him stir. He offers me some but I decline, he laughs and tells me to try it but I turn away, I’m vegetarian.My phone vibrates in my side pocket, my brother, Duncan is calling.
His voice is vibrant over the phone, “Becca! Hey, are you downtown? I just saw your car in a parking garage, let’s meet up!” I tell him I am, I’m visiting a friend and I will just be a few minutes until I can get to 5th and Pine.I say goodbye to Jeff and the other eight people whose names I cannot remember. I exit the street and meet my brother on the corner, surprised to see him with a few of his friends. We hug; I haven’t seen him in months.
He’s home for a long weekend. His friends great me with hugs and smiles. I notice his friend Michael is with him, we have never really gotten along that well.My brother invites me to go the university district with his friends to hang out.
I have no plans so I agree. Duncan gets in my car and helps me navigate the twenty minutes to his friend’s house. The street is packed so I have to park a few blocks away. I take off my heavy jacket; I don’t think I’ll need it inside.
I put my car keys under my arm rest and hide the lock pad that broke off the key ring a long time ago in my usual spot. I follow my brother and his three friends quickly down the street and into Michael’s house.I sit on the couch, but we’re not there for long, the neighbors are having a bunch of people over so we make our way back out the front door and let ourselves into the other house. There are about twenty people in the living room watching a movie on a huge television.
Duncan and I sit together on the couch and he introduces me to the few people he knows. The house is cold; they probably don’t turn the heat on in order to save money.I’m shivering now and I stopped talking because I’m so cold. My brother notices and goes off into the other room.
Michael returns with him and tells me to come with him. As I stand up my brother asks me for my phone, his died and he needs to make a call. I toss it to him and follow Michael back through the front door. “We’re gonna go through the back door, it’s unlocked and closer to the laundry machine”.
The steps up to the backdoor are old and creek under our feet. We breeze through the kitchen and through a heavy wooden door off to one side of the room. Michael forces it open and bats around for the string that turns on the lights. Briefly the lights come on and then a quick pop and it’s dark again.
Michael laughs and I follow him down the stairs hesitantly, usually he’s not this nice.The temperature drops as we move further down the stairs. Another door is at the bottom, this one just as heavy. He forces it open and reaches his arm around the corner to find a light switch, the light flickers a few times before it steadies itself.
The light is dim but better then nothing. There is hardly anything in the basement except for a refrigerator that seems to be broken and a washing machine and dryer. The basement is damp and smells like rot. Scanning the room, I figure out why, a pipe is leaking against one wall and the water is mildewing on the dirty walls.
The scenery is like a bad horror film with all the noises that seem to come from nothing.I stand at the door for a minute and take in what’s going on, after taking a few steps into the room; Michael turns to look at me, “NO! Hold the door open!” I turn, “click”, frantically I turn the door knob, it’s locked. Fantastic. “Becca! The door locks from the outside! Sorry I forgot to tell you to put the door stopper in.
The house has been broken into through the basement a few times so the owner put in these weird locks.” I feel like crying, my phone is back at the other house with my brother and Michael doesn’t have his.Michael throws me a sweatshirt off the top of a pile of folded laundry. “So, what do we do? How do we get out?” I’m scared; this was not what I wanted to do tonight.
“We sit here and wait until someone opens that door, unless you’re small enough to fit through that window up there.” He points to the window on the other end of the room. I look at it, it’s impossibly small and there’s no way either of us could fit through it. Michael sits by the door and yells his roommates names in case they are still home, no one answers.
Hopefully my brother will remember we came over here and come find us.Nothing happens for at least an hour. The room smells horrible, I feel like I can hardly breathe and I start to feel light headed. I run out of things to talk about with Michael, and now the situation is awkward.
I open the window in the corner to get some fresh air. I can hear the music from next door; I can barely make out the lyrics to a Kanye West song:Man I promise, she’s so self consciousShe has no idea what she’s doing in collegeThat major that she majored in don’t make no moneyBut she won’t drop out, her parents will look at her funnyNow, tell me that ain’t insecureThe concept of school seems so secureSophomore three years aint picked a careerTwo then three hours pass; Michael is sleeping in a corner. There’s a door off to one side, I open it, it’s a small closet. I pull the string to make the light come on.
There’s a vacuum and some other cleaning supplies. I check the lock to make sure I won’t be locked in; I close myself in the closet and sit in the corner. I put my head down and my eyes start to water. I know sooner or later someone will have to come down here but it’s been a long day and I’m tired.
I have no idea what time it is anymore and hours don’t mean anything anymore, I just want out.I hear footsteps outside the door; I wipe my face as Michael opens the closet door. He sits next to me and wraps his arm around, I cringe when he touches me. He tells me not to worry, his roommate left his laundry in the washer so he has to come down to get it at some point.
We sit in silence for a while. Michael try’s to cheer me up by singing, he has a horrible voice. I laugh, it’s pretty entertaining.Pretty soon we’re both tired, I fall asleep on Michael but wake up to his movement; he exits the closet and returns shortly.
He hands me a pair of sweatpants and waits out in the main room while I put them on, he covers us in some extra clothes that were downstairs and pretty soon were both asleep again.My eyes begin to open, my vision is blurred and it’s completely dark. Michael is snoring next to me. I gently push him so he leans against the other wall.
I stand up and walk out of the closet and over to the window, it’s still black outside, thank god. I yell through the window but I’m sure no one can here me, it’s raining and that muffles my voice. I sit under the window for a while, the feeling of sleep overtaking me. Eventually I here something, “Becca! Becca? Where are you?” It’s my brother.
I yell back and jump to get my hand out the window so he can see it. Michael wakes up and helps me. My brother’s face becomes visible at the window. He looks panicked and says he’s been looking for us for the past two hours.
Eventually, he lets himself into the house and opens that door for us, he hugs me and we walk back upstairs together. I turn back towards Michael and mouth “thanks” to him, he smiles and waves goodbye to me before going to bed. It’s 4 a.m.
, I’m tired. I want to go home.