The party was popping; there was excitement everywhere. Drugs were dropped, alcohol absorbed and the health of teenagers hideously attacked. Saturday night was in serious swing. But Gorgeous George, hometown hero and normally the life of the party, was like a fish out of water.
"Come on, George. What's wrong?" Stevie shouted above the rage's roar.
The local football star just looked at his friend and moved away.
Six foot one, good looking and a whiz at any sport he played, George was popular with everyone. Neither arrogant nor a bully, he didn't push his way around or insist on his own way. But he sure knew how to party. The biggest drinker and the first to ante up the drugs, everyone knew that if you wanted the blast to last, invite George.
So why was tonight different?
George looked across at two young friends. Cocaine trails were on the coffee table and they each held straws in their hands. In silent thought he crinkled his brow, leaned against a door frame and rubbed his nostrils.
Wendy wandered over and offered a can of whiskey and mix. "Not tonight, Wen." His shoulder lifted off the frame and he moved to the kitchen. Stevie was throwing up in the sink. Gagging sounds echoed from stainless steel and a stench replaced pleasant kitchen odors. George beat a hasty retreat.
He was annoyed. Part of him really wanted to join in, but he felt out of place. He was amazed at the new way he saw everything. He never suffered from hangovers himself, but he knew how some of these kids would feel in the morning; he felt sorry for them. He looked at young couples carousing in every room and he knew the regret some girls would have in the light of day. Tonight lives would change. Some forever.
His stomach churned as he remembered Sally -- bright, bubbly, eighteen, another party, a bad decision, went too far with her boyfriend -- regret didn't change the result. Sally took an overdose six weeks later.
Memories were not always good; and one bad one burning in the brain led to a crazy kaleidoscope of others.
Happy Harry, eighteen and full of laughing life. Went home drunk and exchanged his four door Chevrolet for an early casket. Crazy Ken, always doing stupid and dangerous stunts. Now lying in a hospital bed. One stunt too many -- high on drugs, two broken legs.
Some of the memories were a lot more personal.
His mother's eyes; sad when he'd got home from last week's party. His father's normally warm attitude; it was missing last Sunday. And then there was Sissy. He knew he was her hero. She adored her older brother but he had so little time for her. He remembered the pain in her eyes when he refused to take her to the movies earlier tonight. He couldn't take her; he had this brilliant bash to come to -- the same bash that was turning into an unfamiliar failure. He didn't belong here anymore. He would never fit in this scene again.
At the front door he pulled his cell phone and rang Pastor Dave. "Hey Dave, you were right. Jesus and this scene don't go together. It's not the same anymore."
"That's good, George. If that's how you feel the decision you made last night is more likely to be real and permanent. Do you want to come over and visit for awhile?"
"Thanks, but no. I need to clear my head. And there is something else I should do."
George hit speed dial as he headed for his car. "Hey mum, it's me. Tell Sissy I'm on my way home to get her. Ice cream and a movie with my super sister suddenly seem sweet."
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