March 21, 1999.
Since it was only a day before the first day of the upcoming year, the increase in illumination in the city was achieved by numerous Christmas lights. The white snow covered the landscape bringing chill to the air. As usual, people were in a jolly mood anxiously waiting to welcome in the new year. Three close friends, Tom, Jim and Mark gathered at Jim's house to make all the necessary plans for the party they were to have. Every single arrangement was taken care of, from snacks to alcohol. The most important decision, however, still was not made. Whose house would the party be at?
"My parents are having two more families over," Tom started the discussion. "It is going to be a full house."
"After my last party, my folks won't allow me to have more than five people over at a time," Jim added. "Sorry boys," he continued with an apologetic voice.
"For now, my parents are supposed to go to this formal party, which is out of town," Mark jumped in. "But if they don't go there, they will stay at home and invite our neighbours for a quiet and relaxing night."
Tom said, "Well, Mark, it looks like it is between me and you. We should both talk to our parents to be sure we have a place where everyone can come. Then tomorrow, on the big day, we'll decide whose house it will be."
"I'm sorry I can't help with this, boys," Jim said.
"Don't you worry about it. We two have it under control," Tom commented.
"See, if it is at your place then my girlfriend can simply walk home because she lives so close," Mark said.
Tom answered, "True, but my place will be filled with people. I'm sure my folks won't mind me having a party in the basement, but you know how it is when parents are at home."
"You even have more beds available for a bunch of guys that will be staying over," Mark insisted.
"If you can have your house empty for tomorrow night, I'm telling you, it will be a blast." Tom added this fact that brought smiles to their faces. After a few minutes, Tom and Mark took their jackets and left for home.
Tom and Jim were best friends since childhood. Their characters were quite similar in many regards. Tom was a bit taller, athletically built, with brown hair and eyes. He had a good nature and was always willing to help his friends. Even his glasses, which he wore sometimes, contributed to his sophisticated look. Jim was the joker in the group and always ready to make someone laugh. He was a regular height with brown hair and eyes, too. Even though they were all teenagers, Jim successfully managed to look older because he could grow a goatee.
Mark became friends with the first two boys only a few years back. His height was somewhere in between Tom's and Jim's height and he had black hair and eyes. Mark still did not drive so he always asked for rides from his two friends. If Mark had what he wanted, not even considering others, he was one happy teenager. The first two boys ignored this because nothing big ever happened for them to be angry at Mark. Therefore, Mark seemed to be slowly obtaining a status of a "best friend" over "close friend".
In the morning, after washing himself and having a tasty breakfast, Tom decided to phone Mark and finally settle everything down.
"Hey Mark, I've got good news from my side. My parents did say yes to my possible request," Tom began.
"Oh really, that's great, because I had no luck last night," Mark replied.
"What happened," said Tom.
"It looks like we'll have to be at your place tonight because my parents are staying at home," Mark continued.
"Well, I guess it is my house then so you better start calling people. It won't be the same, but what can I do about it. That's the way it's got to be," said Tom.
After ending the conversation, Tom went downstairs to tell his mother the news. Even though his parents were staying at home, he was still looking forward to having fun as he had promised. He found his mother in the kitchen putting the turkey in the hot oven and getting ready to shape the dough on the table into a destined delicious cake .
"Guess what mom, the party is going to be here," said Tom.
"Oh, that's nice. What a great New Year's Eve this is going to be," Tom's mother replied. "But how come everyone is coming here when they know we're staying in."
"It was one of us three who had to make sure that his house is empty for the party. But since Jim's not allowed at all and Mark's parents are also staying in and they want a relaxing night, it's got to be me," explained Tom.
As soon as he finished the sentence his mother looked at him with a questionable expression on her face.
"Are you sure Mark's parents are staying at home Tom?" She asked.
"What do you mean mom," Tom answered confusingly.
"Well, I talked to Mark's mother a few days ago and she told me she already had the tickets for their party," she continued.
"So, you're telling me that Mark is lying. But that can't be. He wouldn't do something like that," Tom said, trying to convince himself.
"I don't know Tom, but I'm sure that there is an explanation for this," said Tom's mother.
Tom's jolly mood was lost almost instantly. This discovery triggered Tom's brain to start developing the big picture of what was actually happening with regarding to Mark. Even though Tom was suspicious, he still believed that an explanation existed. He couldn't keep this inside him for a long time so he phoned Jim for advice.
"Jim, we have to talk," Tom began with a serious tone.
"What's wrong," replied Jim.
"Well, the party tonight is at my house, but there is more to this," Tom continued.
"I'm listening," Jim said.
Tom started the whole story, "I phoned Mark an hour ago and he said his parents are staying in. So when I told my mom this she told me that she talked to Mark's mom a few days back and found out that Mark's parents are definitely going to that formal party."
"So, you're saying that Mark lied to you. He wouldn't do that, would he?" Jim asked.
"I don't know Jim," Tom answered, "Maybe he would."
"Do you have any idea why he might do this?" Jim asked again.
"Well, I think I do. He definitely wouldn't have to do much cleaning. There will be plenty of food since my mom is at home. He can also get a comfy bed in my living room after the party. But the most important fact is that Tara can safely get home," Tom explained.
"Wow, you thought about this a lot," said Jim.
"These are the points off the top of my head right now. But I'm still hoping there is another story behind this," Tom said.
"Guess what. You'll probably find that out for yourself," Jim started. "Mark asked me if I could pick him up if the party is at your place."
"Right," Tom acknowledged.
"Well, there is a change of plan. You are going to pick him up now," explained Jim.
"Jim, you're a genius. Now I understand. If I walk into his house and his parents are not there it will all be clear," said Tom. "You just let everyone know where to come tonight."
When Tom put down the phone he stayed laying in his bed thinking about this situation. He was strongly hoping that Mark didn't plan something like this. Tom realized that Mark was becoming their best friend. If all this was true, the friendship could change dramatically. Even though Tom wished for another explanation, he also knew that Mark was capable of creating something like this. Tom did realize that this simple and silly action Mark perhaps committed could lead to an unfortunate outcome, maybe even the termination of the friendship.
When most of the decorating was done and everything was in its place, the time had come for Tom to go and pick up Mark. On the way to Mark's house, Tom wanted to find out if Mark's parents were at home. As he was pulling into the driveway he became more nervous. At first, Tom didn't see any car in the driveway. But a possibility that it was in the garage, however, did exist. Tom knocked on the door and, after Mark unlocked it, he entered the house. Immediately, Tom noticed something he really didn't want to. Mark's parents were not at home!
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