Friday, October 8, 2010

Into the Shadows - Chapter 6

Chapter Six
All Hallows Eve

“Now can anyone tell us the positive aspects of globalization? Why is it a good thing?” Dr. Hasenpfeffer stood before the class. She was oblivious to the fact that most of the students in the class were not paying any attention to her. Some had snuck their headphones up through their sweatshirts and were listening to music. Some were passing notes. And some had even succumbed to a sweet mid-class slumber, brought upon by the consumption of too many Tartan burgers at lunch and the overly warm conditions in the classroom. Paivi turned to look at the clock and couldn’t help noticing that Michael Giannotti was in such a deep sleep that he was emitting a snore every so often and a large puddle of drool was spreading slowly across his notebook, causing the few notes he had taken to run. She was astounded by Dr. Hasenpfeffer’s lack of attention to this fact. She felt it was quite possible that the good doctor had just stopped caring whether they listened or not.

 Paivi genuinely liked Dr. Hasenpfeffer, even if she had the worst case of scatterbrain Paivi had ever seen. She really felt her teacher was a nice lady. And when she wasn’t captivating them with astounding tales of Clarence the cat and his habit of pishing all over her carpets, she did have interesting things to say.
 Unlike the rest of her classmates, Paivi was not in a food coma, in fact, her stomach was twisted in knots of hunger because she still hadn’t been to lunch yet. And even though she could see the future, she couldn’t make it arrive any faster, so she figured she might as well say something. Besides, she was slightly bored and a little annoyed that she was surrounded by such lazy idiots. And she felt kind of sorry for Dr. Hasenpfeffer.

She raised her hand.

“Dr. H., globalization could be considered positive because it gives jobs to people in other parts of the world. That might give them more opportunities and maybe they would earn more money than before,” she said.

Dr. Hasenpfeffer seemed surprised that someone had actually answered.

“That is correct Paivi. One could say it is also a positive for the consumer. Companies generally take their production offshore in order to reduce costs. This gives them more of a profit, but it also passes some savings along to the consumer.”

Jason, paying attention to their discussion with interest, raised his hand.

“Dr. H., what about all of those toys that we get from China? I mean, I know they are cheaper than if they were made here, but lately they have all been found to contain lead paint. My aunt had to throw out all of my little cousin’s Super-Bots last week. You should have seen him cry—I thought someone had died!”

“Yes, Jason, that is one of the negative aspects of globalization. If the toys are made in China, we have to trust that the Chinese companies will abide by U.S. laws. Unfortunately, they don’t always check the toys coming over, and that is why you have seen toys from China being recalled every day. I’ve heard a rumor that Chinese-made toys are going to be banned and will all be sent back. Think of how that could affect what Santa Claus puts under the Christmas tree!” she said, tapping her head with piece of chalk.

The idea of no toys or gadgets for Christmas rousted a few of the sleeping and comatose students, and the remainder of class was spent arguing about where else they could get them and how people would deal with the prospect of Santa delivering gifts filled with socks and underwear.

As the bell rang and they left the classroom, Dr. Hasenpfeffer shouted their homework at them through the din.

“Please don’t forget to watch the presidential debate on Sunday night! Who would you vote for and why! We will discuss on Monday!”

“I can just see it now,” said Jason as they filed through the door, “parents buying Chinese-made Chuckling Charlies like druggies score drugs! Instead of drug dealers, there will be toy pushers hanging out at the playgrounds and on street corners!”

“Yeah, they will open their trench coats and instead of watches, they will be lined with dolls and action figures!” Paivi pretended to be opening a coat, laughing. “Got your Soldier Steve toys, step right up!”

“So, any big plans for the weekend?” Paivi asked as she walked down to lunch with Jason.

“We’re going to some Halloween party tomorrow.”

“Oh, is it Amanda Montoya’s party?” Her heart fluttered.

“I’m not sure. Probably. Melissa just told me we were going as Hansel and Gretel.” He sounded a bit angry.

Paivi laughed.

“We’re going, too! You sound less than enthused. I don’t understand why! Lederhosen are one of the more attractive costumes a guy could wear!” She poked him in the side and snickered. “I haven’t quite picked out what I’m wearing just yet.”

“I just don’t like being told what to wear and what to do,” he snapped.

Paivi smiled inside. Maybe there was trouble in paradise. Her mind flitted to the thought of dancing with Jason at the Winter Dance.

“Oh, on Sunday, I guess I’ll be watching the debate. Maybe we should have a Debate Party. I’ll call Crystal and a couple of the others. We could order a pizza or something,” she suggested.

“That sounds cool. Just let me know what’s up. Dude, I’m starving.” He patted his stomach with both hands. They were entering the cafeteria, their nostrils bombarded by the smell of burgers, fries and cookies. “I’ll see you later!”

Paivi headed over to her table and dropped her bag onto her seat. She felt good today. It was Friday, which meant two days to sleep in. As an added bonus, she would get to see Jason two extra days. She was also excited because basketball tryouts were on Monday. Not that the practices were all that exciting, but the games would be great. She felt the good day warranted a nice big chocolate chip cookie. They served them hot in the lunch line, the chocolate still gooey.

“Are you going to get anything Mick?” she asked and grabbed a dollar from her wallet.
Michaela dug through her backpack and pulled out a small purse.

“Let’s go. You’re in a rather good mood today,” Michaela said suspiciously.

“Yeah, I know! How could you not be! It’s Friday, we’re going to a Halloween party and basketball starts Monday.” She tried to pull the doofy smile off her face before it gave her away.

“By any chance is Jason going to be at the party tomorrow?” Michaela asked casually, one eyebrow raised.

“Yes, but so is his girlfriend, so it’s not like he’s coming because of me,” Paivi said with a pout. “But he seemed less than happy about the costumes Melissa wanted them to wear.”

They shuffled a few feet forward in line. Paivi took a quick look around to make sure neither Jason nor his friends were around.

“She wants them to go as Hansel and Gretel!” she whispered loudly.

Michaela snorted. “Well, I don’t even know them very well, but I’m beginning to think they’re not going to last very long!”

Paivi smiled. If only she could tell Michaela what she knew.

“And I invited him over for Sunday because we are supposed to watch the presidential debate for class. I’m going to invite Crystal and some others from class too,” she added.

“Nice move! Ah, finally.” They had made it to the front of the line.

Paivi followed Michaela through the lunch line, noticing the tater tots had arranged themselves into her name.

PAIVI

The green beans were apparently trying to get her attention as well.

I KNOW

She didn’t even flinch at the sight of them this time. She continued with Michaela down the line, paid for her cookie and they headed back to their table.

In the weeks since Homecoming, Paivi had seen numerous messages and her feelings about them had moved from fear to mild annoyance. She saw the words spelled out in her colored pencils in her locker and in chalk dust on the chalkboards in her classes. On her way to and from school on the bus, she witnessed signs rearrange themselves as they passed. It had even appeared in her morning Cheerios from time to time. The words were always the same.

PAIVI

I KNOW

In fact, not only was she annoyed; she was getting more and more angry. She still kept receiving the icy stares from Christian Nelson day after day. She was convinced that he was somehow behind her strange messages, yet she wasn’t quite sure she was ready to march over to his lunch table and punch him in the nose. Maybe she could just yell at him. A lot. But until that moment, she was content with returning his stare. She made sure when she did that it was equally icy and unfriendly. She might not be able to send him messages in his food, but she was NOT going to lose a staring contest.


The evening of the Halloween Party had arrived, and the air was cool and crisp. The leaves crunched under their feet as Paivi and Michaela walked up the ridiculously long driveway that led to Amanda Montoya’s house.

Amanda’s parents were well known in town. Mrs. Montoya was one of the top realtors in the area. There wasn’t a house for sale in St. Andrew that didn’t have her picture in the front yard. Her large, white SUV was covered with her picture and the logo of her real estate firm. Mr. Montoya owned a very successful chain of supermarkets called ‘Alfredo’s.’

The girls had known Amanda since their grade school years at Prairie View Elementary. They had been Girl Scouts together, and even though they didn’t see her all of the time, she still invited them to all of her events.

Paivi and Michaela were always thrilled to go to Amanda’s parties because a party at the ‘Montoya Mansion,’ as it they referred to it, was not to be missed. Amanda’s parties always out-did all others. At Amanda’s tenth birthday, her parents had ordered a small carnival to be set up in their huge back yard. There had been a Tilt-a-Whirl, a little roller coaster and a huge Ferris wheel, along with a ton of carnival games.

There was no telling what the Halloween party would have in store for them. Scattered throughout the front yard were real gravestones. Moss hung from their decrepit exteriors and there was a slight fog drifting among them, skimming across the dead leaves on the ground.

“Wow, Amanda’s parents have really outdone themselves, if that is possible!” Paivi pulled her cloak a little closer around herself, trying not to shiver.

Paivi and Michaela had decided to dress as vampires. Cute vampires, not icky ones. They both had on long, crushed velvet dresses. Paivi’s dress was a deep burgundy. She topped it off with a long black wig and a set of fangs. Michaela’s dress was a deep purple. She didn’t need a wig, as her hair was already long and dark.

“Ooo, come on, this is creepy!” Michaela grabbed Paivis arm, quickening her pace. As they neared the door, they passed one last gravestone, a pile of leaves lay at its base. Suddenly, the pile jumped off the ground and lunged at them.

“Uhhhhhh,” it moaned, echoing through the front yard.

The girls let out a blood-curdling scream and ran to the front door, knocking frantically. The leaf-creature was advancing on them. They started pounding on the door, screaming. The door creaked slowly open and the girls didn’t bother to wait for an invite. They tumbled through the door, nearly falling over each other. They had not yet noticed the large figure standing before them. The sound of a chainsaw ripped through the foyer, the figure held the machine over its head. Its face was covered with a white hockey mask. The girls screamed again and fell into a heap against the front door.

At that moment, the light switched on, illuminating the foyer. Mrs. Montoya appeared, dressed in an elaborate witch costume. She carried a tray filled with goblets that were emitting a green smoke.

“Hi girls,” she said, smiling in their direction. “Sorry about that.” She gestured to the large figure next to her. “Honestly, Fredo, you are going to give these kids a heart attack!”

“Hi girls! We were just having a little fun, weren’t we?” Mr. Montoya removed his mask. “Boy did we get you good!”

He laughed heartily.

“I take it you ran into Chase in the front yard.” Mr. Montoya boomed as a leafy figure waved through the window next to the door. Chase was Amanda’s younger brother.

Paivi and Michaela picked themselves up off the floor and straightened out their costumes.

“Man, Mr. M., you had me scared out of my mind! That was crazier than the last haunted house I went to!” Paivi’s heart was still pounding in her chest.

“Well, go on down, everybody is in the basement. Have fun!” he shouted, revving the chainsaw again.
Mrs. Montoya laughed and rolled her eyes. “Don’t mind him!”

The girls followed her down the spiraling stairs into the basement. The Montoya’s basement was hardly normal. It was considered a wing of their already expansive home. There was a full second kitchen, where Mrs. Montoya was setting down the smoking drinks.

“Here girls, try a ‘Witch’s Brew.’ Amanda is down here somewhere.” She emptied the tray and turned to leave. “Have fun!”

The girls leaned back against the counter of the bar and surveyed the scene. Music thumped from speakers hidden out of sight. A mix of popular and Halloween themed songs, including ‘Monster Mash’ and ‘Thriller,’ had a few people dancing.

In front of them was a huge recreation room. Off to one side, in front of a roaring fire, was a grouping of fluffy couches and opposite on the wall ‘The Exorcist’ played on a large movie screen. There were a number of costumed people lounging in the cozy corner.

With all of the costumes and make-up, it was hard for Paivi to tell who was who. She looked to see if Jason was over there, but she couldn’t tell.

In the center of the large room was a pool table, where Dracula, Frankenstein, a hockey player, and a banana were in the middle of an intense game. Off to the side was a poker table, which at the moment was being used for a Ouija board. Candles were the only light on that side of the room. Paivi could hear gasps and shrieks as the crowd around the Ouija board read the messages it gave them. She could see Amanda, dressed as a mermaid, sitting at the table.

Beyond the table was a wall of windows with large French doors that led to a stone patio and fire pit. Paivi could see more people outside sitting by the fire, roasting marshmallows.

“Hey, let’s go say hi to Amanda and then go out and roast some marshmallows before it gets too cold. I am absolutely dying for one!” Paivi wondered if Jason was outside.

Oh, stop it, she told herself. What is the point? He would be here with his girlfriend.

Anyways, maybe she would meet a cute guy at the party to tide her over until Jason and Melissa were no more; there were definitely plenty of them around!

“I love roasting marshmallows!” Michaela squealed.

They headed towards the group at the Ouija board.

“Is it bad when most of your marshmallows end up in the fire instead of in your mouth?” Michaela laughed.

They approached Amanda’s chair, attacking her with hugs from both sides, careful not to crush her elaborate mermaid’s costume.

“Hey!” She jumped up, turning around to hug them both. “You guys look fabulous!”

“Uh, guys, I think the board has a message for Paivi,” squealed one of Amanda’s friends, Darcy. “Look, Marina is writing it down while it moves.”

Darcy gestured to their hands on the small device gliding across the Ouija board.

“What did it spell out, Marina?” she asked.

“Just a second, I don’t think it’s done.” Marina waved Darcy off, her eyes following the planchette eagerly.

Their hands continued to move with the device.

Paivi started to get nervous. What was it going to do, tell her I KNOW for the eightieth time?

“Okay! I’ve got it!” shouted Marina. “Oh my god, Paivi!”

Paivi could feel her heart start to sink.

“Paivi loves Jeff!”

“Who is Jeff? Is he here at the party?” asked a girl dressed like Princess Leia from Star Wars.

Paivi laughed and felt a sense of relief wash over her. “Jeff? I don’t think I even know anyone named Jeff. I guess he’ll just be my mystery man!”

The banana shooting pool had overheard the girls’ conversation and raised his hand.

“Hey, my name is Jeff! Who loves me?”

They all laughed.

“According to the all-knowing Ouija, Paivi here does!” Amanda pointed her out. “Jeff, meet the new love of your life!”

“Nice!” He walked over to Paivi. “Hi, I’m Jeff the banana. Damn glad to meet you!”

He pumped her hand in an exaggerated handshake. Paivi blushed.

“Hi Jeff the banana. It’s a pleasure?!” She wasn’t so sure.

“I’ll be seeing you,” he pointed his two fingers at her like pistols, pretending to shoot, blew the smoke off of them and winked, “later! But right now I’ve got to finish my game! Bye!”

Amanda turned to Paivi and Michaela. “Do you guys want to play? We can pull up more chairs.”

“That’s cool, we’ll come play in a little bit. We want to go roast some marshmallows! Did you get stuff to make S’mores?” asked Paivi.

“Girl, you know I did! Hey, Michaela, try not to drop all of your marshmallows into the fire this time!”

Amanda’s laughter followed them out the door into the crisp evening.

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