Watchers – Chapter 1-4: Getaway

watchers

Billy was the toastmaster. He was always the toastmaster because he knew just what to say at any given moment, and tonight was no exception.

Ryan guided Billy toward the podium at the front of the classroom, as the rest of the group turned with drinks in hand in anticipation of the forthcoming speech.

“Friends, acquaintances, confidantes, and Collin,” Billy said, as the room burst out laughing.

Collin smiled, crossing his arms to maintain his tough-guy persona, but underneath he could barely contain the giggles.

“You know why we’re all here. It’s a momentous occasion. We’ve graduated college…well most of us at least,” Billy looked to Adrian, who had already graduated the year before. Adrian smiled back, lifting his arms over his head as the group began to clap for Adrian’s past success.

“So this is what it feels like to be an adult,” Billy continued. He drew a ring around the top of his glass of punch hoping to make the friction between the glass and his finger sing a sweet tune.

“I’ve heard people say that being an adult isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You wake up every morning, you clock in at work, you take your lunch at noon, you clock out and you come home to catch up on the latest episode of Castle, and for what? Sounds like a pretty boring life, doesn’t it?”

Billy gauged the room. He sensed he was bringing the room down with his bleak workplace scenario he concocted…but he was gearing up for the grand finale.

“All the while you’re paying your rent, you’re cooking your meals for the week, you’re keeping the dog fed and groomed and taking it for its nightly walk around the block…not to mention the occasional visit from your parents who contribute nothing but to point out that the apartment smells like bad chicken because you haven’t had a chance to clean out the trash because you’ve had your ass planted on the couch watching Nathan Fillion deliver a fantastical performance as a writer who can also solve real crimes. You may be asking yourself…what is the point?”

“What is the point?” Pawel shouted from the back of the class, sipping his third fruit punch, which he had spiked with rum from the start but failed to tell everybody.

“The point…is that that doesn’t have to be our lives,” Billy raised his hands over the podium as if to say to everyone, ‘now it’s time to stand and receive the good word.’

“I mean sure, we’re bound to spend the bulk of our summer doing just that, but I think we have room for fun, don’tcha think?”

Billy eyed the room as his friends began to clap and whistle. They didn’t know what they were cheering about, but Billy had a couple more tricks up his sleeve.

“I’ve got plans for us in the weeks ahead. I want you all to keep your calendars clear for the week of July 20th to the 27th.”

Everybody in the room turned to look at one another. Billy turned to gaze at Sarah, who began to tug on Emily’s arm to calm her nerves. Whether it was nerves or an action signifying her excitement being held back, Billy didn’t know.

Christian spoke up, breaking the silence. “What’s the plan?”

“I’m glad you asked, buddy. Collin, can you get the lights?”

Collin was leaning against the wall at the back of the classroom, and flicked off the lights, as a new, bright blue light began to glow from the overhead projector. Nobody else in the room had even noticed that Billy had a laptop and the projector set up the entire time.

Collin knew what the big reveal was; he and Adrian had been planning this for weeks. They’d made calls, checklists, ride plans, and had the location booked and ready to go. Collin was just upset that they couldn’t book a five-star resort on a tropical island in the Bahamas.

As the projector brightened up, Billy flicked open the tab he had minimized on his laptop, and a photo of a large stone and brick house appeared on the screen.

Billy watched as the room seemed to analyze the photo. He too found himself turning to look at the screen turned to look at the screen.

The photo was of a stone brick house, on roughly an acre of land that was surrounded by luscious forestry, with a beautiful front garden and a fountain. Enough parking for eight cars, at least. Windows as tall as the Golden Arches seemed to cast nothing but natural light into the home.

Billy began to click the right arrow, showcasing more photos of the interior of the home. The interior was a beautiful finished wood paneling, with all modern furniture, mahogany countertops in the kitchen, a vaulted ceiling and a gray brick fireplace with a flat screen television mounted above the mantel.

The next few slides showcased walk-in closets, about six bedrooms, three bathrooms, a games room, and an indoor jacuzzi. And to top it all off, the second floor had a walk out balcony that spanned the width of the house, and was lined with more furniture, a barbecue, tables, and chairs.

The view of the balcony wasn’t ideal, unless the group wanted to look at tall evergreens, but the home looked inviting, and cozy. It was a dream home one could retire in with at least three Maseratis and a couple of honies, Collin thought to himself.

“This home is beautiful, but what’s the catch?” Emily asked.

“Yeah,  I mean it’s not like we’re ever going to afford something like that,” Antonio chimed in.

“Well maybe not forever-” Billy started, before Adrian jumped up on the mic.

“But how about for the week?”

“No way,” Ryan said, his mouth dropped. “You mean this home-”

“Has been rented by us…for the entire week. Thank you, Airbnb,” Billy smiled.

The energy in the room rose to volcanic proportions. Sarah bounced up and down, as Antonio grabbed both Emily and Sarah in a bear hug. Sarah didn’t seem to mind one bit.

Pawel shouted at the top of his lungs in the loudest cheer Billy had ever heard. Collin simply smiled, continuing to lean chill against the back wall, submitting a few claps here and there. All the while, the collective audience gave their cheers and celebratory graces.

“Again my friends. Be sure to mark your calendars. We’re travelling to Painter, Ontario, where this lovely home will be awaiting us,” Billy concluded his speech, jumping off the podium as Adrian and Christian greeted him.

“That was epic, dude. I’m so stoked,” Christian’s excitement was practically flooding all over.

“This vacation’s been a long time coming, my brother,” Adrian said.

“I agree,” Billy said. “Now let’s drink!”

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