Title: The Rager
Summary: The Cohens go away. Ryan has a cold (like me!) and Seth is just Seth.
This was overnighter's prompt:
stain, tomato, rain, shadows, lurch, lime jello, with an added bonus for working in danglies.
I get bonus points. This was written mostly in one day... in poor conditions, more on that later, and I'm really zonked now and I will admit the end just fizzled out. Sorry! But I hope you enjoy what's there.
“I don’t know, Sandy. I don’t think it’s such a good idea to go away this weekend.”
Kirsten was sitting at the kitchen table. She was surrounded by large, bulky blueprints spread out in front of her. Somewhere in the jumble of blueprints, notes and papers, was her laptop and cell phone. Sandy studied his wife, who was knee-deep in work and shook his head in dismay. How could she say she wasn’t in need of a vacation?
Ever since Kirsten had returned from Suriak, she had thrown herself into the Newport Group, the Newpsies and most of all the kids. He knew it was her way of dealing with the trauma of the past year and as long as she was healthy and happy and not drinking tomato juice and vodka for breakfast, he could support it. But they needed a break. Sandy suspected that Ryan and Seth could also use a break from Kirsten’s overwhelming mothering too. Not that Sandy would voice his thoughts aloud.
“Honey, the kids will be okay on their own. Julie and Jimmie said they’d check in on the boys.”
Kirsten sighed. “I know. But Ryan’s under the weather.”
“He has a cold, Kirsten. We’ll leave him with some Sudafed and lots of juice and tea. He’ll be fine.”
Ryan walked in from the patio just as Sandy was finishing his sentence. “Kirsten, I’m fine. Really,” he assured her for what seemed like the fiftieth time that day. “You and Sandy should go. I’d feel worse if you stayed home.” But his voice was scratchy and rough from the cold.
He pulled out a container of orange juice from the fridge and poured it into his glass. “It’s not such a big deal, you know. I’ve been sick and been home alone before.”
“Well this isn’t before,” Kirsten insisted. “This is now.” She tried not to think of all the times Dawn had neglected her son for alcohol and drugs or simple neglect. She never wanted to be that type of mother and she nearly had been.
“I have Seth.”
Kirsten rolled her eyes. “His idea for curing a cold is to feed you lime Jell-O and tea.”
“That’s because you have to feed a cold, Mom,” Seth interjected as he ambled into the kitchen. “And lime Jell-O is food for the gods. Didn’t the Nana teach you anything?” He slipped into the stool by the counter. “Really, you and Dad should have this little weekend. It’s been a while.” He scrunched up his face in disgust. “I’m trying not to think—“
Ryan punched his arm.
“Don’t say it,” Ryan growled.
“Mom. He hit me,” Seth whined. “Dad,” he looked imploringly at his father when his mom didn’t look very sympathetic. “I don’t know if you can leave us alone together if he’s going to beat me up like this. You might come back and find blood stains on the carpet.”
“We better not find any stains on the carpet,” Sandy growled. “I don’t want to hear about any parties or shenanigans while we’re away. We expect you to be on your best behavior.”
“Does Ryan look he’s in any shape for shenanigans?” Seth put an arm around his foster brother’s shoulder. “Look at the boy, Dad.” Ryan sneezed again. “Ew. Ryan, don’t get snot on my new shirt.” He let go of Ryan, well aware of the glare that was aimed his way.
Kirsten in the meanwhile did look. She looked at Ryan’s red nose with the chafed skin all around from using too many tissues. His eyes looked a little glassy and once again she had her misgivings. “Sandy, maybe we should postpone for next weekend.”
“Next weekend is your big Monte Carlo fundraiser. The weekend after that is Ryan’s big soccer game against Del Vista. We can’t miss that.”
“Okay. Okay. We’ll go,” she relented. “But,” she turned to the boys with a severe expression on her face. “The girls are not allowed to stay over here. If you bring them here, they must leave by ten and if you go out you better stick to your eleven p.m. curfew. We’ll be calling the house to check in. You will not have any parties while we are away.”
Seth sniggered. “After Aunt Hailey’s New Year’s bash a couple of years ago… That won’t be a problem. And after Trey’s birthday party last year and floater girl in the pool, I think we’ve been safely warned off from ragers.”
“We’ll act just as we would when you’re home,” Ryan reassured them. “Don’t worry.”
“Okay. Okay. Help me clean up this mess and then I can go start packing.”
Sandy, Seth and Ryan, eagerly went to roll up the blueprints and gathered the papers into neat piles, aimlessly sticking them into manila file folders. The table was cleared in no time and arms laden with all her work paraphernalia, Kirsten went up to her room to pack.
Alone with the boys, Sandy turned to them with his eyes narrowed. He pointed his finger at them ready to scold. “Your mother really needs this time away. She hasn’t taken a break since she came back from rehab. Do not do anything to make us come home early.”
“Seriously, Sandy,” Ryan held up his hands. “I’m just going to lie in bed and read. This cold has knocked me out. I think I’m even going to cancel my plans with Marissa.”
His expression softening, Sandy approached Ryan with an outstretched hand and placed it on Ryan’s forehead. “You don’t seem feverish, but maybe Kirsten was right. Maybe we should put this off.”
“I’ll be fine, Sandy. Really.”
“Yeah, Dad. He’ll be okay. I’ll make sure he stays in bed and drinks plenty of fluid and definitely lots of Jell-O. It’ll be like a little hospital here. I’ll be nurse Sethela.”
“I’d pay to see that,” Sandy grinned. “Especially if you put on a uniform.”
“You know, there are male nurses.”
“Well, if I need a nurse, I’d definitely want one with a very short skirt.” Ryan’s eyes scanned Seth’s body. “And frankly, I don’t think you’d be able to carry off the look.”
“Okay. Okay.” Sandy chortled. “Ryan, go to bed. Take some cold medicine. You’ll call us if you need us, right?”
“Yes.” He tried not to roll his eyes, but it just happened. “I will.”
“And Seth,” Sandy turned to his son, “you — you just behave.”
He cupped the back of Seth’s neck to show his son that he was just teasing. Sandy was shooing the boys off to the corners when Kirsten breezed back into the kitchen.
“Sandy, it might rain. Make sure to pack in your umbrella.” She turned to Ryan. “Maybe you should stay in the guest room, so you don’t get wet coming in and out of the house. Especially with your cold.”
Ryan could hear the anxiety in her voice. His first instinct was to refuse, but then he worried that if he said no she might reconsider the trip again. Dabbing the tip of his dripping nose with a tissue he conceded. “I’ll bring in some of my stuff.”
An hour later, Sandy and Kirsten finally left, hurling last minute instructions about the alarm, and house and warning them over and over again that no guests were allowed over. Seth closed the door behind them and leaned against it.
“I thought they would never leave.”
He pulled out his cell phone.
“What are you doing, Seth?” Ryan creased his brows. “Who are you calling?” His voice was filled with tension. All he wanted to do was pull the covers over his head and go to sleep. The pool house, the guest room. It didn’t matter. As long as it was a soft, warm comfy bed. Yet he had a nagging feeling in the pit of his stomach that he couldn’t trust Seth.
“I’m calling Summer to invite her over. Do you want me to ask her to bring Marissa?”
“No. I thought your parents said no guests.”
“True. They did. But Mom also said that if the girls came over, they had to be gone by ten. I’m going to go by the first set of instruction.” Seth hit the speed dial. “Are you sure about Marissa? And what do you want me to order in for dinner?”
Ryan looked at Seth warily. “I just want some soup.” He waved at Seth and turned to go up to the guest room.
He kicked off his boots as soon as he got in the door and climbed into the bed, pulling the downy comforter around him. He didn’t even bother to strip off his jeans or shirt – and the stiff clothes didn’t bother him – he immediately fell into a deep sleep.
The lamp near his bed was casting soft shadows on the floor and walls, when Ryan opened his eyes again. It took him a moment to remember where he was. He looked outside and saw the sky was pitch black. He couldn’t believe he had slept the entire afternoon away.
Ryan covered his mouth as a coughing spasm hit him. He groaned, realizing that sleep had not cured his cold. Huddling under the covers, and closing his eyes, he wished that someone was around to coddle him. Not that it was something he was accustomed to from childhood, but during the few times he had been sick during the last couple of years, the Cohens had always hovered, asking if he needed anything and how he was feeling. If he had to sum up how he felt, icky would be an apt description.
He shifted around in bed, wondering if Seth had come in at all, to check up on him. Probably not, he thought. Though he didn’t recall leaving the lamp on. But Summer probably had her hands wrapped around his danglies – Ryan shook his head. Those were not thoughts or images he wanted crowding his head. Ever.
Suddenly, he heard a loud crash. Throwing the covers off, Ryan jumped out of bed. As soon as he opened the door he could hear the music pulsating from the first floor.
Oh no, he though. He didn’t.
But apparently Seth had. As Ryan came down the steps he saw the first floor was crammed with bodies pressed against each other. In one corner, he saw couples with hands draped all over each other, their faces not visible as they were pressed together, tongues probing the other’s oral cavity.
From the second step, Ryan scanned the room, looking for Seth. He couldn’t find him. Sighing, he went all the way down, throwing himself into the throng, pushing his way from the family room to the kitchen. A hard boot jammed down on his toe and he yelped in pain.
“Sorry, dude.” The tall, sandy-haired surfer like “dude” looked down at Ryan’s feet. “Where are your shoes, man?” Taking in Ryan’s crumpled look the jock grinned. “Oh. Sweet. I see you’ve been busy.” He held up his hand for a high five, but Ryan ignored him and went passed.
He arrived in the kitchen with great effort and swore under his breath when he didn’t see Seth. The family room, he figured. He started to make his way over, wondering who all these people were. Seth didn’t have many friends. How did word spread so fast?
There was a faint familiar sound. Darn, it was the phone. Once again, he pushed through hoards of people before he could reach it. It was Sandy’s number on the caller ID.
“Oh. Hey Kirsten.”
“What’s that noise?”
He felt his stomach muscles tighten. “Oh. Sorry, I forgot to turn down the T.V. Let me do that.” He slipped out the back door to — he hoped — the quiet outside. “There,” he said, grateful that he found silence. “Sorry about that.” He forced cheer into his voice. Are you having a good time?”
“We are. It’s beautiful here. Very relaxing. How do you feel?”
“Okay. Better,” he lied, leaning against the barbeque pit.
“Are you drinking lots of water and juice?”
“To be honest, I just woke up about a half hour ago. But I promise to drink now.”
“And eat. You must have been feeling very sick. I hope you sleep tonight.”
“Sure I will.” Though looking around at the scene that surrounded him, he wasn’t so sure.
“Well, okay.” He could hear the concern in her voice and her reluctance to let go. “Is Seth there?”
His mind scrambled for an explanation. Bathroom was so lame. “He went to drive Summer home.”
“He did?” Kirsten’s voice turned hard. “I told you both I want you home by eleven.”
Ryan glanced at his watch. Crap. He hadn’t realized how late it was.
“He lost track of time. I think he was waiting for me to get up. He’ll be home in a couple of minutes.”
“Well have him call me right away. From the house phone. I’ll be checking the caller ID.”
“Okay. Don’t worry.”
“I shouldn’t bark at you. This isn’t your fault.”
Ryan couldn’t agree more heartily. “Have fun, Kirsten. Tell Sandy I said hi.” He noticed a group of kids starting to tumble onto the patio, and wanted to get off the phone fast.
“Okay. I love you. Feel good.”
He hung up the phone and took a deep, labored breath. First he had to find Seth and have him call his parents. Then they had to clear everyone out and as soon as Seth cleaned up the mess, he was going to call him.
Ryan came back into the kitchen and ran smack back into Seth. The music seemed somehow louder. He could feel the beat of the music thumping against his rib cage.
“You’re up!” Seth cried with delight.
Ryan sneered. “Are you drunk?”
“No. Nope. Not me. Sober as a cat, just a little high on life.”
“Well, you better tone it down and call your mom. I told her you were taking Summer home and she was pissed you were out passed curfew.”
“Ryan, for a hood from Chino, you are the worst liar ever.”
“She believed me, didn’t she?” He stuffed the cordless phone into Seth’s hand. “Go call and make nice or she’s going to ground you.”
Ryan surveyed the scene around him, wondering how he was going to clear this party. He had never even identified the source of the crash. The clean-up would take all day tomorrow. He wondered how much money Seth had stashed, maybe they could hire a cleaning service.
He sneezed again and again.
“Bless you again.”
Ryan beamed when he saw Marissa’s familiar voice. “Hey, you’re here.”
“This was the place to be tonight.”
He rolled his eyes. “Sandy and Kirsten are going to murder us and eat then eat us for dinner.”
“They won’t find out.”
Ryan raised his brows. “Everyone always gets caught at these things.” He sneezed again. “I feel like crap. I just want to crawl into bed. Maybe I’ll kill Seth first.”
Marissa draped her arms over his shoulders. “Poor Ryan.” She kissed his forehead.
“As much as I’d like to take this further,” he whispered into her ear, “I don’t want to get you sick.” He tilted his head back ready to sneeze again and Marissa backed off immediately.
“Okay, Mom was appeased after I promised her my first born child.” Seth shouted over the din as he entered the kitchen, letting the back door slam. He rubbed his ear. “She chewed me out. Jeez, Ryan, thanks for having my back.”
“I could have told her that I couldn’t find you because the house was jammed with people we didn’t know.”
“Yeah. Okay. I see your point.”
“Seth, we have to clear everyone out.”
“It’s too early.”
Ryan leveled a sinister gaze at his foster brother.
“Yeah. Okay. How do we propose we do that?”
“Call the cops?” Marissa suggested.
“Not a good idea if there’s alcohol around,” Ryan immediately answered. He felt Marissa’s hand snake around his waist. He was thankful for her reassuring embrace.
“Maybe we can just say the cops are on the way.”
Seth shrugged. “Maybe. I just don’t see why we have to end things. Mom and dad think we’re tucked safely in bed. They’re not calling again.”
They heard another crash. It was louder and bigger than the last one. Seth was pretty sure he heard glass shattering.
“So the house isn’t destroyed,” said Ryan.
“Seth.” Summer ran into the kitchen. “There you are! That was your dad’s surfboard crashing through a glass table in the foyer. Chip Saunders thought it was a good idea to go body surfing down the stairs.”
Seth closed his eyes. “We are so screwed.”
“Maybe your dad won’t notice the board?” Summer asked hopefully.
“Maybe not. Probably yes. We really should make tonight good, Summer, because it’s going to be a while.” He clapped his hands together. “Okay. Operation clear out Casa Cohen is underway. Ryan, you clear the second floor. Summer and I will take the first. Marissa, you take the patio and pool house.”
“Seth if they messed up my things you are minced meat,” Ryan scowled.
“Yeah. Well, right now, I’m not sure what’s more frightening, you or my parents. You, dude, are way more physical. But the parents, they hold the keys to my trust fund, the car, the vacation home—“
“If you say grotto I’m going to kick your ass.”
“Yeah. Right, this minute you’re much more scary.”
They heard hooting and hollering.
“Seth, we better get to it. Before your parents’ house is no more.” Summer tugged at this arm. He lurched forward, stumbling over his feet, nearly falling to the floor, but he caught himself.
“You want me to come with you?” Ryan turned to Marissa.
“I think I can handle it. What about you?”
“As long as there are no threesomes in Sandy and Kirsten’s bed, I think it should be okay.”
He pushed himself off the counter, stifling another urge to sneeze. Maybe he should scare everyone out of the house by screaming SARS and then sneezing on everyone. He stopped the first couple he encountered and shouted, “We better start clearing out. Some moron called the cops on us!”
The young couple muttered a few profanities, but saw them immediately start to spread the word. He did this to everyone he met as he headed up the stairs and was surprised at how quickly word seemed to be spreading. He even saw a small crush of people heading towards the front door.
He repeated the cry on the second floor, pulling people out of corners and crevices and the bedrooms. Though some of the couples weren’t very bothered by the thoughts of cops. They must be children of the sixties, he thought. Make love not war. He hustled two guys out of Seth’s room and thought a little retribution was in order. He would only suggest changing the sheets after Seth had slept in them.
“Is it working?”
Ryan started when Marissa came up to his side.
“A bit. This floor is empty. No one likes Seth. Or me. Why would they come?”
“If there’s a keg, it doesn’t matter who’s throwing the party.”
Ryan groaned. “A keg. How are we going to have to get rid of that?” He closed his eyes. “I just want to sleep.”
“Maybe we should get help?” Ryan was thinking aloud.
“Maybe your parents?”
“But they’ll definitely tell Sandy and Kirsten.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.”
Too tired to argue, Ryan sat at the top of the stairs waiting to see what Marissa would do. He heard her, before he saw her. The music stopped abruptly, as if someone had yanked out the plug. The remaining crowd stopped dancing, turning and murmuring questions to each other.
“Listen up,” she shouted, climbing on top of the overturned sofa. “The cops are on the way, thanks to the overbearing people next door. So if you don’t want to be hauled to the police station or home in a cop car, get the hell out of here!”
“Get going people.”
To Ryan’s surprise the people started leaving.
An hour later, Summer, Seth, Ryan and Marissa sat on the overturned couch.
Chips and pretzels were ground into the carpet. Ryan thought the light brown stain near the kitchen was probably beer. Glass was all over the foyer. The mass of people crushing to leave at once had turned it into a fine white dust. And Sandy’s board was cracked in half.
“Well, I’m going to bed.”
“You’re going to leave me clean this up myself,” Seth cried.
“Yup.” Ryan turned to his girlfriend. “Marissa, do you have your car here?”
“I do. Get some sleep, Ryan. Feel better.”
They watched Ryan climb the stairs.
Marissa stood. “Sum, you coming? I’ll drive you home.”
Summer stepped over Seth’s outstretched legs. “Good night, sweety.”
“You’re leaving me too!” Seth’s mouth hung open in disbelief. “I’m really cleaning this all by myself?”
“Yes you are. Maybe, when you’re done, we can have our own little party. But not today.”
The sun sent streaks of light through the heavily curtained windows in the guest room the next morning. Ryan washed up and went down the steps, expecting to see the disaster area he had left last night. He chewed his lip in wonder.
The couches were all back in place. The crumbs vacuumed and the shards of glass. The two halves of Sandy’s surf board were propped against the wall. And there was Seth, spread eagled across the floor, lightly snoring with a mop leaning against his head.
Ryan quickly went to find the camera and took as many incriminating pictures as he could. Then he set about to finish cleaning up Seth’s mess and trying to figure out how to explain the broken table and surf board. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.