CHAPTER 5- GROUP MEETING
“God damnit, Manny, will you stop fucking around? We’re trying to have group here!” Ty yelled as Manny stood in the corner attempting a new dance move. “Take that salsa shit somewhere else.”
“Hey man, fuck you, this is my new groove, holmes, you know what I’m sayin?” Manny panted, swiveling his hips and turning his arms in what looked more like a stretching exercise than a dance.
“Oh, how attractive,” Gwen observed sarcastically as she entered the common room with Maria and Suzette in tow. “Ricky Martin, you have GOT to teach me that one.”
Maria and Suzette both chuckled as Manny slumped back down in his chair, clearly embarrassed.
Both Suzette Richards, a buxom 16-year-old from nearby Melville, and Maria McCann, a 17-year-old bombshell from the suburbs of Cleveland, had been in Westin Hills for two years. They entered the facility on the very same day with the very same problem—both were having a hard time kicking a bad drug habit.
But the similarities ended there. Maria was on the homecoming court of her high school, and attempting to go to cosmetology school. With a body as shapely and well-toned as hers, few could argue against it. Suzette, on the other hand, was chunky for her age, and got nowhere near the homecoming game of her school, let alone the court. She did receive one nomination, but the guy that voted for her had a fat fetish, so he really didn’t count.
While the two had the same drug problem, they came from completely separate paths. Maria fell for the basketball team’s star center, who just so happened to be a crack dealer on the side. One thing led to another after that, and before she could see past the veil of her blinded love, she found herself addicted to heroine and thrown out of her house. Many needles and inhalations later, her parents found her motionless on the street corner looking for her late one night and decided enough was enough and called Dr. Graham and had her committed.
Suzette discovered the wacky weed through her favorite rock and roll bands, which ironically, were from the late 70’s and early 80’s as the hippy era of rock and roll was finally dying off. Jerry Garcia, Pink Floyd, Jimmy Buffett, you name them, they became her new best friends. It was her escape from the everyday turmoil she faced at school for being overweight. While her parents tried to help her, she was more interested in putting ‘another brick in the wall’ or visiting ‘Margaritaville’ than she was with her homework, and when her grades slipped below a D-average, her parents shipped her off to Westin, hoping and praying it would straighten her life out.
Maria met Suzette in the lobby their very first day, and the two became fast friends. They ultimately ended up rooming together, and had been each other’s crutch of support ever since. Two years later, they were making great progress, and eagerly anticipated their release so they could both become models. Maria would surely have no trouble getting a job, and she promised Suzette that once she hit it big on the runway, she would get her a job as a plus-size model, something that absolutely made Suzette’s day, week, month, and year. But until then, they were confined to their dorm-like prison at Westin.
“Hey, have you guys seen Lexi?” Gwen asked as the trio took their seat in the infamous circle. Gwen parked herself next to Maria on the right half of the circle, while Suzette plopped down on the chair to Maria’s left, knowing it would be a pain in her ass. Literally.
In the pale, empty common room, there was nothing but four walls and a circle of small chairs, one for each patient and doctor. It was a lot like their individual rooms, but the patients valued it because once a week they could come in and talk about their problems with their fellow patients and express their feelings to everyone, including the doctors. It was very therapeutic, especially after all they had been through in their tough lives.
“Nope, sorry, haven’t seen her since this morning,” Ty blurted out before Manny could add his two cents. “Calvin brought her by earlier with his little 25 cent tour. You know how those are.”
“Ugh, THE tour,” Gwen joked, sarcastically smiling at them. “The poor girl is probably half asleep by now. Look, guys, I’ll be right back, I’m gonna go see what she’s up to.”
“That’s Calvin for ya,” Maria added as Drs. Graham and Halverson entered the room holding their clipboards. “I don’t know why he does that, anyway. It must be part of his job description or something.”
“Where’s everyone else?” Dr. Graham questioned as he opened up his silver clipboard and began taking notes inside. “Where’s Lexi?”
“Gwen went to find her,” Maria informed him as the doctors took their seats. “And Simon and Tex were playing monopoly about a half-hour ago, so they’ll probably bounce in any second.”
“She knew we were having this meeting,” Dr. Graham stated, puzzled as he looked at Halverson. “What could she be doing?”
Back in her room, Lexi began to unpack some of her belongings, when she came across some painful, all-too-familiar photographs. Scattered around in the base of an old shoebox, Lexi’s eyes began to well up with tears when she saw who they were. In one, she was hugging both her sister Apryl and her best friend Tash. They all had huge grins on their face, and were definitely happy on that bright sunny day. In another, she was adorned in a mountain of gothic makeup with her friend Veronica, celebrating Halloween. Managing to crack a half-smile, she set that one aside, but almost lost it when she caught a view of the next one. It was of her boyfriend Mike, dressed in his kelly green football jersey with a white number seven across his chest. And on top of his shoulders, there she was, decked out in her skimpy cheerleader’s outfit, smiling down at him as they exchanged a loving glance. Whimpering with tears streaming slowly down her face, she struggled to keep her composure as she set the pictures back into the shoebox and shut the lid.
Looking over at the clock, she realized it was 9:15, and that she was 15 minutes late to her first group meeting. Great, she thought. What a way to make a first impression.
Rushing to clean up her mess, Lexi slid the shoebox underneath her bed and made her way toward the door. Flinging it open, she scampered out into the hallway, but was surprised at what she saw. The entire corridor was dark from one end to the other, and the dim emergency lights were flickering badly. Hmm, maybe a power outage or something, she thought. But that theory quickly vanished when she turned back around and saw the lights still on in her room. Puzzled, she tried to turn around and head back in, but the door suddenly slammed shut in her face, sending a chill right down her spine.
Now in almost total darkness, Lexi tried to feel her way along the wall to the next room or the end of the hallway, whichever she could find first. Maybe one of the others would know what was going on. Squinting her eyes, she continued to stretch her hands out in front of herself, trying to use the fluorescent light as a guide. However, when those lights went out, she reached a dead end and began to smell a strangely familiar scent in her nostrils. It was that hot, stuffy odor of overburnt cinnamon mixed with the thick stench of sweat that made her skin crawl. Feeling the humidity suddenly rise in the area, she realized that she was no longer in her own world anymore. She was somewhere else. Somewhere...
That sickening claw scratching nearly shattered her ear drums, sounding worse than 100 fingernails on a brand new slate chalkboard. Sweating heavily, Lexi knew exactly where she was, and turned around to face her fears.
There, standing directly in front of her, was the scarred maniac himself, Fred Krueger.
“AHAHAHAHAHAHA!” Freddy laughed as Lexi recoiled backward, suddenly bathed in a sea of crimson light. “That never gets old.”
“What do you want with me???” Lexi demanded. “I’m sick and tired of playing your little games. If you want to kill me, then go right ahead. Here, I’ll even let you have the first cut.”
“Oooooh, feisty are we?” Freddy quipped as Lexi held her wrists out. “As much as I want to cut you with my blades and taste your blood again, I got something much much worse planned for you, Lexi. Something worse than death itself. And after that, you’ll be begging me to take your soul.”
“What? What could I possibly have that you want?”
Freddy didn’t respond. He just flicked his claws, triggering the brick wall behind her, which started to fall apart brick-by-brick. Collapsing rapidly, Lexi was knocked to the ground as the entire wall began to crumble. A few moments later, the dust cleared and all that was left was a small doorway.
Choking on the dust, Lexi got back to her feet, but Krueger was gone. Ahead of her, the small, rusted iron door slowly began to creak open, and she gasped at what she saw inside it.
There, sitting in the circle, was the entire group of Westin Hills, joking, laughing, and clearly oblivious to what was really going on.
Proceed To Chapter 6
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