Among those in the basement was a senior named Zain Malik, 18, a laid-back soccer player with an international background—born in Mexico to Pakistani parents; traveled with a UK passport; was heading to NYU come September. He and his friends started to plot an escape. It was a rudimentary plan: Open up the door and run, cutting through backyards, jumping fences, weaving through topiary until the cops got bored.
“Seriously,” one said. “Let’s do it.”
This plan was nixed, however, when suddenly the officers were right there at the sliding-glass door, which took some work, getting around back—a seven-foot-high picket fence, a gate with a tricky latch. They were shining their high-beam flashlights through the slits in the venetian blinds, the lights darting around the dark room like shooting stars—reminiscent, actually, of that class trip to the Rose Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History.
E. J. VanBomel, a junior who was among those in the basement, a nice guy with curly hair and glittery braces, told some sharp jokes, but sometimes the common-sense cells in his brain went ballistic. Case in point: When the light flashed on him and held there, like he was onstage, he had the brilliant idea to stick out his right arm and extend the middle finger of his hand.
“What the fuck are you doing?”
Someone punched him in the arm.
The police were starting to act a little peculiar. Ringing the doorbell nonstop. Yelling things. Some of it was what you’d expect (“Open up!” “We’re gonna flatbed your car!” “You’ll never play lacrosse again!” “Think summer’s gonna be fun? Think again!”), but then they started targeting specific people. They . . . knew names.
How’d they do that?
(Here’s how: The aggravated cops had called into the station and ran the license plates of the cars parked outside, all registered to the parents, of course, but this being Rye, they knew the kids’ names.)
“Namoury!” one detective hollered. “Grow some balls and open up the door!”
The New Rochelle girls looked at him, their panic rising. Shouldn’t we open up the door now? Namoury shrugged, as if this happened all the time, when the truth was that he—and everyone else—had no clue what was going on.
Malik, meanwhile, turned to his friends. “We are so screwed,” he whispered. Then he decided to go upstairs and check in with MacBride.
A parent of one of the students inside was sound asleep under a down comforter. Then the phone rang.
A stern voice asked for her or her husband.
“Speaking,” she said.
He identified himself as an officer of the law, adding, “I wanted to let you know that your daughter is currently involved in a standoff with the Rye Police Department.”
Was this some sort of joke?
“I think you should come on down.”
A neighborhood kid not at MacBride’s was tipped off via cell phone about what was going on. Hoping to help lure the officers away from the scene, he dialed 911: “There’s, like, a huge disturbance on the other side of town! We need all the police!”
The cops didn’t bite.
When Malik made it upstairs, he was startled by the powerful knocking at the front door. He assumed it was just the police, but, no, it turned out to be . . . a parent. Holy shit! Cops were one thing, but parents controlled cars. Credit cards. Summer nights. At the door was the father of Joey Groglio, who was now running up from the basement.
“Joey, get the hell out here!”
Joey walked up to the door. Malik watched, wondering if this was it, the end?
“Go away, Dad!” Joey yelled. “I’ll find a ride home!”
Joey’s mother appeared in the window.
“These kids are crazy!” she shouted. “They have too much freedom! We need to take away their cell phones, and their instant messages, and . . .”
Damn. Cops or no cops, this was not the best impression to make at a party.
Malik finally made it into MacBride’s room, where he asked, “What are your thoughts?”
“I don’t know,” MacBride said.
“Joey’s dad is banging on the door.”
There was an awkward silence.
“Uh,” Malik said, “I’ll clean up a bit.”
He exited the room, scrounging up some trash bags in the kitchen. As he started collecting debris, he thought about MacBride, felt a certain sadness for him, the way he seemed to fully understand the jam he was in: no pleasant finale tonight, definitely not, and so he wanted to prolong the present moment—the standoff, as it would become known—as long as possible. An idiotic move, no denying that. But it made sense. Doom may sometimes be inevitable, sure, but can you blame someone for attempting to stave it off a few more minutes?
Groglio ran back downstairs, swallowed his pride, and announced to everyone that his parents were standing outside and freaking out, which sparked a minor freak-out session among the kids.
“Yo, this is fucked up. We should maybe open the door—”
“Nah, it’s cool.”
But it wasn’t. This had become a Def Con 9 situation. Namoury, for one, knew that much. He got off the couch, leaving the New Rochelle girls, and headed upstairs, figuring it was a good idea to clean up. He and Malik quietly made their way through the house, tossing bottles and cans, fluffing the pillows on the living-room couch, straightening the family photos in the hallway, putting the food away. There was a certain irony here, not lost on anyone: The house was on its way to becoming cleaner now than it had been before the party. A parent would be proud . . . or at least oblivious.
“I’m sorry, but it’s time for the door to open,” Ladd said to his friend.
Ladd went downstairs, where he discovered 40 squirmy kids milling about the living room. After learning about the parental presence, everyone had headed upstairs from the basement. Still, no one was reaching for the knob.
Ladd entered MacBride’s room and said, “Dave, I think it’s over.”
“Feels that way,” responded MacBride. He thought for a moment. “Okay, do this: Go out and ask everyone what they want to do—I’m fine with whatever.”
Ladd went out and addressed the room: “If you want the door to open, raise your hand.”
Everyone looked at each other. Outside, Groglio’s parents continued banging on the door, now joined by others. One mother knocked on the living-room window, dangling car keys and yelling, “Do you see these keys, young lady? Do you? Because you better get a good look at them, because you are never going to see them again!”
A second later, every single hand was in the air.