There was silence. She laughed. “You were thinking of Diwali parties, weren’t you?”
“Hey, they’re legit parties!” Rishi said, but he was laughing too.
“Okay, we’re totally going to this party.” Dimple held up the piece of paper on which Kevin had scribbled the address.
Rishi made a face. “Really?”
“Really. You don’t have to be a ‘party animal’ to go to a party and have a good time. I’ve been to a few small ones with friends in high school, and I swear they weren’t so bad. It’s a chance to hang out, that’s all.” Seeing him open his mouth to argue, Dimple rushed on. “Besides, just look at it as a social experiment. You have to go to at least one college party, right? It’s like a rite of passage. You can just get it out of the way now, with me as your guide.”
After a moment, he shut his mouth. “Oh, fine.”
Dimple jostled him with her shoulder. “Good. You might even have some fun.”
“This is insane.” Rishi and Dimple stood across from the house where the party was.
There was no mistaking they were at the right location. The front yard was decorated with what looked like a DIY glow-in-the-dark bowling set made from plastic water bottles with glow sticks inside them. People were trying to knock down the pins while screeching with laughter. What Rishi was pretty sure was a life-size doll sat in a tree like she was watching the proceedings, her lips, hair, and dress glowing from the black lights strung in the tree branches. The front door was open, and the music pouring out of it was so loud that the bass shook the ground under Rishi’s feet. “We can’t go in there. Those people look drunk off their butts.”
“Oh, come on. You can’t even see them from here. Besides, look at this place. This is a real college experience.” Dimple grabbed his wrist and pulled him across the street. Her eyes, Rishi saw, were glued to the bowling pins.
On the tiny front porch was a cooler filled with drinks, both adult and not. Dimple grabbed two Cokes, and handed one to Rishi.
“Was that beer in there?” he asked, shaking his head, as she shut the top.
Dimple gave him a look. “Yeah, some people here are twenty-one.” Seeing his unconvinced expression, she added, “You know, one beer won’t land a person homeless on the streets.”
Rishi popped open his Coke and followed her into the house. “Ha-ha. You know, I watched this documentary one time . . .”
Dimple walked in and peeked around the corner while Rishi talked at length about how addiction could wrap itself around you like a python and squeeze you dry if you weren’t watching out for it. There was a small kitchen, she saw, and people were bustling around, getting things ready for the party. A tall boy poured lemonade out of a carton into tiny plastic glasses on a tray. A girl with multiple piercings in her lips and ears and nose put a fresh batch of brownies into the oven.
Dimple smiled to herself, an evil thought taking root as the boy brought out the tray of lemonade and set it down on a table near where she and Rishi were standing. Glancing at Rishi, she confirmed what she suspected: He hadn’t seen any of this. He was still talking about the documentary and how heroin was the new drug of choice for suburban kids.
Her smile widening, Dimple reached out for the tray full of pink drinks and downed one quickly.
“You don’t even know what was in that!” Rishi said, trying not to let his voice reach the crescendo it wanted to. Was she crazy ? He’d never drink anything that he hadn’t made himself or at least seen someone pour. She didn’t even know these people!
Turning around, Dimple put her hands on his elbows and leaned in so he could hear her over the thumping music. It was dark inside, with just a few black lights and glow sticks strung up around the place, and Rishi found his heartbeat quickening just a bit. “Relax,” she yelled. “It was just pink lemonade, I promise.” Then, grinning, she picked up another pink lemonade and drank it. “I’m going to keep doing that until you drink something too. Loosen up!”
A throng of people came by hooting and hollering as they rushed outside to bowl. There were only three drinks left, and, raising her eyebrows, Dimple reached for another.
“Okay, okay,” Rishi said. He grabbed one of the little plastic cups and downed one. It was tart and sweet and slid easily down his throat. To be honest, it really didn’t taste like anything more sinister than strawberry lemonade. Maybe this party wasn’t as completely out of control as he’d thought. “There,” he said. “Happy?”
Dimple grinned. “It’s a start. Come on, let’s see what they’re doing.” She pointed to a bunch of people who were clustered around a redheaded boy and a girl in braids who sat on the couch across from each other, sketch pads poised on their laps.