MacBride and crew ignored the sound. What else were you supposed to do? Revel in it? Freak out? They tried to think of things to talk about, anything to distract them.
“Man,” MacBride said, “how fun was spring break?”
“The best,” replied Kate Kiarsis, an effervescent 18-year-old brunette who seemed to have a perfect tan year-round (and, unfortunately for MacBride, already had a date for prom). Laugh if you want, but it was a genuinely bittersweet moment. Come fall, while all his friends headed off to colleges like Colgate and Yale, MacBride would be flying back to Ireland, for good. He felt he’d never quite fit in around here; back home, he was going to become a carpenter. But now his memories were doing that thing memories do, transmuting into nostalgia.
“Remember that time at Ocean Club?”
Ocean Club being a resort in the Bahamas where the parents of one of MacBride’s friends had stayed over spring break. One night they had a cocktail party and invited the kids to enjoy the open bar. It had been a crazy good time.
Eddie Urso, a senior, was running late—so late that it was already tomorrow. Figured MacBride’s party had sputtered out at this point—most such affairs in Rye wound down around midnight, a victim of curfews—but, what the hell, he’d swing by, see what was up. When he turned onto Fulton Avenue, a narrow, tree-lined street where the houses sit close together, he spotted the squad cars out front. Two of them—no, three.
Damn. That sucks.
One of the cops walked out in front of Eddie’s car: a dusty silhouette in the headlights, flashing the palm of his fleshy hand.
The officer asked Eddie to please step out of the vehicle. “Going to this party?” he asked.
Eddie couldn’t possibly play dumb—in Rye (population: 14,955), everyone knew everyone. In fact, the night before, the daughter of a local DARE officer on the scene had been at a party at this very house and didn’t come home until the next day. (Police didn’t return calls for comment.) She’d been grounded, but some began to wonder if there weren’t larger consequences: Could this be why the police seemed more riled up tonight? Did they have some point they wanted to make?
Or maybe it was something else. Maybe it had to do with what happened back in 2002, in Harrison, a somewhat less stately neighboring town (population: 24,154; median income: $80,738), when a 17-year-old football star went into a freak coma, and eventually died, after being punched in the face while drinking with friends. That was horrible. Tragic. Rolling Stone came out and ran a feature on it, and all of a sudden, you started to see phrases like “the continuing saga of underage drinking in Westchester County” sprinkled throughout the papers, as if it were any different from anywhere else in America. Which got old—fast. It often seemed as if the adult superpowers were interested in defining you only in terms of mayhem and deviance. You became the sum of your random mistakes—the sum, often, of other people’s random mistakes.
“I want you to call one of your friends inside,” the cop was saying, “and tell them we’re gonna knock down the door if they don’t come out.”
Was he serious? As if Eddie were about to go there. He pulled out his cell, dialed his pal Victor Rubino, who was down in the basement, and relayed the message to everyone, who . . . couldn’t help but crack up a little.
Because, come on . . .
What was this, a Steven Seagal flick?
No, it was more like The Negotiator, that movie with Samuel L. Jackson about two hostage negotiators. That’s what Ladd was thinking at the moment. It had come out his freshman year, which seemed a while ago all of a sudden.
“You guys sure this is standard?”
This was a twin sister of a Rye alum—a sophomore inexperienced with siege etiquette. “We shouldn’t, like, open the door?”
“How’s about this: We deliver a pizza to the cops, in exchange for the underclassmen? They slide the pie under the front door, we let ’em out through the back?”
Ladd was a fifth-year senior (long story). He hadn’t spent five years “in the high-school system,” as he called it, only to have his wisdom doubted. So he wandered into the upstairs guest bedroom with two friends, locked the door, and crouched beneath an open window overlooking the back porch, imagining himself in The Negotiator. He could hear the cops outside, murmuring, scheming, moving around to the back of the house. That wasn’t good news.
Still, there was something tranquil about this little perch, an eye-of-the-storm kind of vibe. Ladd got lost in his thoughts, tying to envision next year: He’d be attending Colorado Mountain College—gnarly snowboarding there, you can’t even imagine. Hitting the slopes every other day. Weekends, he’d drive down to Boulder to visit friends like Kate Kiarsis, who was going to be at the University of Colorado. Good times. A few minutes later he looked over to find his comrades sound asleep. Snoring even.
In the basement, half the kids were nodding off as well; tomorrow, their drowsiness would be interpreted as brash defiance. Meanwhile, MacBride left his bedroom and stealthily crept downstairs. He’d seen the third squad car pull up from his window, bringing the total number of officers to six, and wanted to make sure everyone was doing okay.
“Maybe we should just sleep it out,” he suggested to a friend.
“We kind of already are.”
“I guess that’s true,” MacBride replied. “I’m going back up to my room.”
Up in the attic, a fidgety kid used his cell to call Namoury, still seated with the spring-break girls down in the basement: “Think it’s a good time to call Domino’s?”
“Or how’s about this: We deliver a pizza to the cops, in exchange for the underclassmen? They slide the pie under the front door, we let ’em out through the back?”
The police were making some serious noise out in the driveway, as if they were about to phase into Plan B, whatever that was. Paxton, the lone soldier in the garage (still staring at those damn sneakers), decided to play it safe and crawl under the car, having no idea just how long he’d be there.