Cary and I started dating right before Christmas in our senior year. Since we were both off school we saw each other a lot the first weeks, including going to Mary Anne's Christmas party together. That made us a couple, in the eyes of SHS.
Mary Anne was happy for us. She admitted to me later that she always thought I had a crush on Cary, and that he liked me, but she had no idea how to make me see it. Abby just joked that she was scared, that if the two of us combined our powers no one in Stoneybrook was safe. Cary smirked at that and raised an eyebrow.
I was starting to love that smirk, as much as it drove me crazy before. I was starting to love a lot of things about Cary. How smart he was, and the way his hair sometimes fell in his face, and the way he could make fun of stupid people without them even knowing. And, as much as I hated to admit it, the way he called me on it when I was getting too stressed out or up tight. He had always been the only person my age who just laughed when I glared at him, and I loved that most of all.
So when I asked him to go to Stacey's New Years Eve party with me, I was pretty shocked when he said he had plans.
“What kind of plans?” I asked. We were sitting at the mall, watching people. (His idea of an interesting date. Normally I couldn't have imagined a bigger waste of time, but with him it was kind of fun.)
“Baby-sitting.” He said with a little smile.
“Your brothers?” I asked, sympathetically.
“Alan has acquired a pretty shocking amount of alcohol, and my understanding is that he and Claudia plan on drinking as much of it as they can. So it's up to me to keep them from ringing in the New Year in jail or the morgue.”
I couldn't believe it, “So you don't want to go out with me because you're spending the evening drunk with Alan and Claudia?”
“Wrong. I don't want to go out with you because I'm spending the evening sober with Alan and Claudia, who will be drunk enough for me as well.”
“That is ridiculous. So where do they think they're going to do all of this drinking?”
“We're having a kind of party.”
“Which I'm not invited to.” I said.
He smiled, “It's not really your kind of party, Kristy.”
I kind of understood. I was the student council president, captain of the softball team, 4.0 grade average type. The kind of party where Claudia (who was in serious danger of not graduating) and Alan (who, rumor had it, once swallowed a joint so the principal wouldn't find it on him) tried to give themselves alcohol poisoning wasn't really my scene. But at the same time, I couldn't understand why Cary seemed so okay with hanging around that sort of place either.
“You'll be there.” I pointed out.
“So it can't be that idiotic.”
He got this devilish smile on his face, “If you'd like to come, I can honestly say that I would love to have you. But you have to agree to two things.”
“And those are?”
“First, you won't ask about any of the details of the party. They'll be explained if you decide to show up.”
I was suspicious, but I said, “Okay. . .”
“Second, as long as you stay at the party, participation is mandatory.”
“Participation in what?”
“You'll find out at the party.” He said, with that smile still on his face.
Now I was really curious. He could see that, and just raised an eyebrow.
“I can leave the party whenever I want, right?” I said.
“Absolutely. No questions asked, and I will completely understand.”
“Okay, then. I'll be there.”
“Good. Meet me at my house, at 7:30. We'll take your car. Wear black and white. And I don't mean to alarm you, but I think the man in the blue shirt to your left may be some kind of alien.”
I looked over at the tall, balding man who had dyed his remaining hair blue, which matched his shirt perfectly. I glanced back at Cary, and took a sip of my soda to keep from laughing.
We watched him walk away, and he almost tripped over his own feet.
“Maybe his people aren't naturally bipedal.” Cay observed.
“If I was in charge of an alien race, I'd make sure my representative to earth could walk on two legs before I let him off the ship.” I said, raising my eyebrows.
“I thank God every day that you aren't in charge of an alien race.”
“That's what's wrong with this universe, you know.” I said, crossing my arms with a little smile.
He smiled back and put his arm around me.
I pulled up outside Cary's house at 7:20 on New Years Eve. I could see him looking in the trunk of Alan's car, so I got out and walked over.
“Hey, what's going on?”
“Alan has outdone himself.” Cary said, nodding to the open trunk.
I glanced inside, then did a double take. Watson had a pretty well stocked liquor cabinet, and he tended to get extra before parties, but I had never seen anything like this. Alan's entire trunk was full of bottles. There must have been ten different kinds of rum, a few bottles of vodka, and everything else you could name and a few things I'd never even heard of.
“How on Earth did you get this?” I asked Alan in disbelief.
“Great-aunt Lulu passed away last November. Mom asked me to clean out her closets, and when I did I found the mother load. I don't think anyone knew Aunt Lulu had this stash, but I'm going to remember her fondly for it.” He said with a grin.
“I remember Aunt Lulu, and I didn't even know her!” Claudia called from the passengers seat of Alan's car, and when I looked in I could see she had a plastic cup already half empty. “She always had the best booze.”
“Happy new year, Claud.” I said, a little disapprovingly.
She didn't notice, “Happy new year! I brought cups.” She said, trying to get out of the car. She wasn't that far gone yet, but her outfit made moving around difficult.
We'd all followed Cary's instructions and dressed in black and white. I was wearing black slacks and a white sweater with black stars. Cary was dressed in black jeans, a black shirt, and a tie with black and white stripes. Alan was also wearing black jeans, but with a black t-shirt that said “Designated Drinker” in white letters.
Claudia was wearing high heeled black boots, a huge white poofy skirt she'd tied up in the front with black shoelaces revealing black and white stripped leggings, a black tanktop with a lacy white shirt over it, black gloves, and a party hat that was swirled black and white stripes. She had these huge disc earrings on, one black and one white.
“I don't need a cup.” I said, glancing at Cary. “I'm driving.”
He nodded, “Kristy has kindly offered to chauffeur us, at least as long as she can stand our shenanigans.”
“You have shenanigans planned?” Claudia asked, laughing.
“You know that Cary always has something up his sleeve.”
“Wrong, Alan. There is never anything up my sleeve.” Cary said. “Since I don't think either of you can consume your body weight in alcohol, pick out three or four bottles, and the ones we agreed on, and let's load them in Kristy's car.”
“Hold on,” I said. “What if I get pulled over? I'm pretty sure the cops might notice I've got a liquor store in my car.”
“We have to transport it somehow.” Cary said, raising an eyebrow.
I looked at the three of them. “Fine. The alcohol goes in the trunk, and nobody is drinking in my car, understand?”
“Yes, sir.” Alan said, with a salute.
“Ma'am.” Claudia corrected him.
“I'm still waiting on Cary's confirmation of that.” He said with a laugh as he loaded about twenty bottles into my trunk.
I just rolled my eyes and got in the drivers seat. Cary climbed into the passengers side, and Alan and Claudia climbed in the back.
“Where am I going?” I asked Cary.
He pulled out a typed list. “583 Forrest Drive.”
I knew the way there, because Watson's ex-wife lives on that street. We found this house with no problem. There was definitely a party going on there, the door was open and some people were sitting on the steps with plastic cups.
“Whose house is this?” I asked.
Cary looked at his list, “Faith Lambert's house.”
“I have no idea.” He said, getting out of the car.
I was really confused. I glanced back at Claudia, who shrugged and got out of the car along with Alan. Cary opened the trunk and pulled out a bottle, then started walking up to the house. The three of us followed Cary right inside. The people there seemed to be in their twenties, there was hip hop music blaring and people were dancing in the living room. The couple of people who noticed us looked at us strangely.
Cary walked coolly up to where the mp3 player was plugged into the speakers. He unplugged it, and the music stopped. People looked around, confused and annoyed. Then he plugged in his own mp3 player, and his voice came over the speakers. “Ladies and Gentlemen, please clear the dance floor.” People were really confused now, but they cleared out of the middle of the living room. Then the recording said “Thank you.”
Cary walked up to me and held out his hand, “Care to dance?”
I was still in shock, so I didn't answer.
“You promised to participate.” He reminded me.
So I took his hand and he lead me to the middle of the room.
Then the music started, “Original Prankster,” playing really loud. And we danced. I'm not a bad dancer, and neither is Cary, but no one was looking at us because Claudia and Alan were jumping around like crazy people. When the song ended, Cary walked back over to his mp3 player while the recording said “Sorry for the interruption, we now return you to your regularly scheduled party.”
The hip hop came back on, and Claudia and Alan and I waited to see what Cary was doing. He came back over to us with the bottle in his hand, just as a kind of angry girl in her early twenties reached us.
“What in the hell are you doing? Who are you?” She said. I had a guess that she was Faith Lambert, whose party this was.
Cary smiled, “I'm sorry. We're just leaving now. But thank you for having us, we had a wonderful time.”
He handed her the bottle, and she looked as confused as I was. Then he started walking to the door, and the three of us hurried after him.
“Great house!” Claudia called to the girl over her shoulder.
Outside, I just stared at him as we walked to the car. “We just crashed a party?”
He opened the car door, and turned to smirk at me. “Tonight, Kristin, we are going to crash all the parties.”
Claudia and Alan laughed, and had another shot of something.
“This is going to be so great!” Claudia said, as I climbed in the car.
When I was inside I turned to Cary, “What do you mean, 'all the parties?'”
“Exactly what I said. I have a list. We should be able to get through it before midnight.”
I was still staring at him. Then he leaned back with a satisfied smirk, and I had to laugh. “So you're doing this at every party in town?”
“As many as we can. If you don't care to join us, I'll drive Alan's car.”
I had to think about it for a moment. So this was what it was like, inside one of Cary Retlin's pranks. The people at the party thought we were crazy, but they would be talking about us for the rest of the evening. And it was fun, and it wasn't hurting anything. Besides, Cary was going to need all the help he could get if Alan and Claudia were going to hit their stock after every stop on that list.
“I'm in. But I get to pick the next song.” I said, laughing a little. I was pretty sure this isn't how anyone expected Kristy Thomas to spend her New Years eve.
Cary smiled at me, and called out to Alan and Claudia, “Finish up, we don't want to keep our hosts waiting.”
And so the four of us crashed every party in Stoneybrook. We went to the SU frat houses, and a dozen other random houses, and even Stoneybrook Manor, the nursing home. (We gave them our bottle of champaign, and I picked a slower song without any swearing. We didn't want to give anyone a heart attack.)
By the second house I was having a great time. We danced and laughed at each other and the looks on peoples faces. Claudia and Alan kept finding the food and helping themselves, so it was my job to keep them away from it while Cary thanked the hosts. In the car we laughed more and listened to music and discussed the next song. It was the craziest thing I'd ever been part of.
It was a little after eleven when Cary gave me the last house on his list. We were all sweaty, Cary's hair was sticking to his forehead and mine was starting to come out of my ponytail. Claudia lost her hat an hour ago, along with one of her earrings. (I asked her if asymmetrical was in, and she said that anything was in if she was wearing it, which made us both laugh.) She and Alan were both well into the loud and obnoxious stage of drunkenness.
The whole evening had been one awesome thing after another, but when Cary read off the last address, I froze.
“Cary, that's Stacey's house.”
“Yes, it is. I understand she's having a party, but she's missing four of her guests.” He said with a sly smile.
Claudia leaned forward into the front seat, “We're going to see Stacey? Awesome! Step on it, Kristy, I wanna give her a hug!”
“You want to give the lamppost a hug right now.” I said, rolling my eyes. Then I said to Cary, “Everyone from SHS is going to be there.”
“Anyone who's anyone.” He said cheerfully. “Though I understand the student council president had a prior engagement.”
“Yeah, wonder where she is.” Alan said loudly, then laughed at his own joke.
“I can't go there.” I said. “I mean, I can't do this in front of people I know.”
“Then you can drop us off at my house. I told you that you could leave whenever you wanted.” He said calmly. He didn't seem offended, but he wasn't exactly sympathetic either.
I closed my eyes and leaned my head back. I didn't want to go home. I was having a great time. But I didn't really want to humiliate myself, either. Mary Anne would be there, and Abby and most of the student council. What would they all think?
I could feel Cary's eyes on me, and he pulled the thoughts right out of my head. “What will they think? The responsible Miss Kristy Thomas pulling a prank like this? People might look at you differently. Even when you're back at school, on your committees and council, they might be wondering what exactly you're capable of when you feel like it. Even your closest friends won't know the answer.”
Then I felt his breath next to my ear, and he whispered, “Even you won't know the answer. And that could make your life very. . . interesting.”
I smiled, and he kissed me right next to my ear.
“Are you two gonna make out, or are we gonna go?” Alan yelled from the back seat.
“We're going.” I said. And I drove to Stacey's house.
I pulled up in front, and we got out of the car. Cary grabbed a bottle. I knew that Stacey drank sometimes, heck I had a few beers at a party too, but I wasn't sure how she'd respond to being presented with a full bottle of hard liquor. Besides that, her mom was home so this party was probably dry.
We walked inside, and I pointed Cary to where the music was set up. I'd been to dozens of parties at Stacey's house, not to mention sleepovers and stuff when we were kids.
People called out to me and waved, and I just smiled back. The smile was frozen on my face, but behind me Claudia was jumping up and down and waving at people. There was a slow song playing, and some people were dancing, then the music stopped and Cary's announcement came on, and everyone started talking and looking at the middle of the living room, which had cleared out.
I saw Mary Anne heading my way, and I tried to think of some way to explain what was going on, but just then Cary came over and took my hand. I gave Mary Anne a grin and a shrug as a loud Green Day song that I didn't know came on.
And suddenly we were dancing, and the crowd of familier faces didn't seem to matter. Claudia and Alan were jumping around, and Cary took my hand and spun me, then kept my hand while we danced. I completely lost my ponytail holder and my hair fell in my face, and when I brushed it away I could see that he was grinning at me and singing along to the song, even though I couldn't hear him over the music. But I could hear the words blasting from the speakers:
Is she dreaming what I'm thinking?
Is she the mother of all bombs, gonna detonate?
Is she trouble like I'm trouble?
make it a double twist of fate
or a melody that
She sings the revolution
the dawning of our lives
she brings this liberation
that I just can't define
nothing comes to mind
I laughed and tossed my head and we finished dancing. Then Cary's ending message came on, and he grabbed his mp3 player and the bottle he'd set next to it.
I took a deep breath, still laughing, and brushed the hair out of my eyes. I glanced over at the shocked faces. Mary Anne's mouth was an o, and Stacey looked frozen in confusion, with no idea what to do.
Cary handed me the bottle, with a smirk on his face. “You do the honors.”
I took it and walked up to Stacey. She stared at me like I was an alien, and I took a deep breath, “We'd like to thank you for having us to your party. We had a great time! We have to go now, but this is from us, and, well, have a happy new year!”
She took the bottle and laughed a little, “Kristy Thomas, what on earth-”
“Great party, Stace! Woo! Hugs!” Claudia said, nearly toppling her in a hug. I saw that Claudia had a hand full of chips, so I turned and found Alan, “Alan Gray, stay out of the food or I'm locking the trunk!”
“Come on, both of you. Time to go.” I said. I took Claudia's hand and lead her away from Stacey, out to the car. Cary showed up a few minutes later with Alan in tow. Once everyone was loaded in, I looked at Cary and burst out laughing.
“Did you see that? Did you see everyone's face?”
“I certainly did. There may be more to you then anyone expected.” He said, satisfied.
I was still laughing, but I said, “I don't know how I'm ever going to school again. I don't know how I'm going to run the council meetings. This night could not have happened.”
He smirked, “But it did. And it's quarter to midnight. Let's go finish our party.”
“Where to?” I said.
He gave me directions, and we ended up outside of town in a field. I opened the trunk, and Claudia and Alan both started drinking straight out of bottles that were left. We counted down to midnight by Cary's cellphone, and at midnight I kissed Cary, leaning against my car.
“Resolutions!” Claudia called out, raising her bottle. “I,” she slurred, “am going to graduate high school!”
I smiled at her, “I can help you with that, if you want.”
“Yes! You and Cary have to help, because smart people have to help dumb people, because. . . oh god, I can't remember the beginning of the sentence.”
“You're really drunk.” I said.
“I do know that! I'm not that dumb, Kristy.”
I had to laugh. Cary looked close to laughing too.
“Alan, Alan, you go now. Resolutions.”
“Right. I, Alan Gray, hereby resolve to smoke less pot.”
“'S a good one.” Claudia said, nodding.
“I have to agree.” Cary added.
“Now you, Cary.”
“I don't make resolutions. I make promises.”
“Okay then, what do you promise?” I asked, curious.
He smiled at me. “I promise to build something amazing this year.”
“Like what?” Claudia asked.
He smirked at her, “A time machine, Claudia.”
She nearly fell over laughing. But he smiled at me again while Claudia collected herself, and I thought I knew the real answer. And I liked it.
“Oh, boy. Now, miss president, Kristin Amanda Thomas, what do you resolve?”
I thought about it for a moment. I had a lot of plans. Tons of them. It was my last semester at SHS, and next fall would be my first semester at Yale. But those were plans, not really resolutions. Plans are something you know how to do, and you just do them. A resolution should be something that it's kind of hard to do.
Finally it came to me, and I grinned at Cary. “I resolve to have another night like tonight.”
Claudia and Alan both found that hilarious. While they were laughing, Cary wrapped his arms around me, and said “A worthy goal.”
Then he kissed me deeply, and I knew that whatever happened, this was going to be the best year of my life.