Chapter Eight: At The Halfway House
“So, where did you get to last night?”
Topaz emerged from her bedroom, tying her dressing gown cord around her waist with a yawn as she eyed her roommates curiously. “Club? Bar? What?”
“We went to explore the local nightlife.” Copper said with a grin. “Guess who’s idea that was?”
“Syl’s.” Topaz laughed. “By the way, I spoke to Jetta last night, and she said she’s sending a car for us at ten. We have an engagement at…I forget what she called it, but it’s like a rehabilitation centre for teenagers who’ve had drug problems and the like.”
“Wow, big gigs we do in England.” Sylva put in from the doorway, rubbing her eyes sleepily. “A drug centre? For real?”
“Jewel aren’t anything major in England yet.” Nancy put in sensibly, pouring herself a cup of tea from the kettle. “We have to do it slow.”
”Guess so.” Copper nodded. “Ten, you said? Okay, we’ve about an hour.”
“I wanna know how it is we’re all awake this morning.” Sylva yawned. “I think I had maybe four hours sleep…why am I even up?”
“Because I set your alarm clock before I went to bed.” Topaz grinned. “I knew the car was coming at ten, so…”
“Great.” Sylva yawned again, then, “I’m hitting the shower…someone do me a coffee? I need to wake up!”
“I’ll do it.” Copper volunteered. “Topaz, praps you oughta ring down for breakfast?”
“Will do.” Topaz nodded. “It’s probably quicker. Then I’m going to shower and get up, too, if noone minds.”
“How did yesterday go?” Nancy asked. Topaz dimpled.
“It went great.” She responded. “It was so neat spending so much time with Cameron…we had a picnic and made out and it was cool. I didn’t want to come back, actually, but with work…I kinda had to.”
“Did you cry?” Copper asked gently. Topaz nodded.
“I did.” She said sheepishly. “I cried all the way from London Euston to Milton Keynes. Then I realised some snotty kid was staring at me so I went and fixed my makeup in the train rest room…so I looked fairly presentable by the time I got to Birmingham. I met this girl on the train, she helped me find where to go at New Street Station, and she was real nice. We exchanged emails, and I promised I’d mail her when we got home.”
“Sounds like you had a busy day.” Nancy observed, draining the last of her tea. Topaz nodded.
“Yes.” She agreed. “It was nice to spend time with Cameron, too, even though I had to master the scary trains.”
“Another fear conquered.” Nancy grinned. Topaz laughed.
“Almost.” She agreed. “Well, it was worth the adventure. Now, I’m gonna go kick Syl out of the shower so I can get up and so we’re all ready to go when the car arrives. See you in a few!”
* * * * * * * * * * *
“You’re early this morning.” Jessica Young eyed her colleague with a curious
look as she locked up her car, resting her elbows on the roof as she paused
to talk to the other girl. “I tried calling you last night, by the way…got
no answer. I wondered if you were okay.”
“I was fine, I just…I was helping a new friend.” Sadie responded with a smile. “Why were you calling? What’s up?”
“You know I’ve been trying to fix it to get this band to come and play for the kids?” Jessica began. Sadie nodded her head.
“Yeah – it’s a good plan, too, take their minds off everything for a while.” She agreed. “What of it?”
“Well, I agreed with their manager last night.” Jessica’s eyes were bright with excitement. “They’re coming this morning, would you believe!”
“Nice going!” Sadie grinned. “So what’s the plan – are we going to round everyone up or just pass the word around?”
“I think the latter.” Jessica said thoughtfully. “We’re not gonna make anyone do anything, after all. But I did ask around yesterday and a lot of them seemed keen on the idea, so I think it’ll be good. They’ll be here around ten thirty to set up, so from elevenish they’ll play I guess. Hopefully they’ll talk to the kids – it’s PR for them too, since they’re not well known here.”
“Sounds fun.” Sadie responded. “How did you convince them, in the end?”
“I dunno.” Jessica laughed. “The woman I spoke to – she was a Londoner, actually, which surprised me a lot since the band are from America – seemed fairly amenable to the idea. She told me that they were doing a lot of high and low profile engagements and one more wouldn’t hurt. So. There you have it. Jewel are coming to visit.”
“Jewel…” Sadie frowned. “I’m thinking…do I know their song?”
“Probably. It’s been on radio and MTV a lot.” Jessica nodded.
“Don’t have cable telly.” Sadie shrugged. “But actually, yeah, I think I do know it. I think I’ve heard it playing on the radio while I’ve been in the bath. What’s it called again?”
“Whisper.” Jessica replied. “But I asked if they could play two or three tracks and this woman – Jetta, that was her name, now why is that familiar? Well, anyhow, she said it would be fine.”
“Jetta was one of the Misfits.” Sadie remembered. “Wasn’t she?”
“Yes!” Jessica snapped her fingers. “Then it must be her – because the company Jewel belong to are Misfit Music – I should have put two and two together. How are you so clever this morning, huh?”
“Dunno, guess it just comes naturally.” Sadie responded sweetly, leading the way inside. “Also, though, my sister was a big fan of the Misfits, the Holograms and that other American group that was out at the same time…forget the name. She has all their tapes still, and Andy bought her a greatest hits CD for their wedding anniversary last year, so I know the songs pretty good now.”
She paused in the doorway, of the social base, a thoughtful look on her face. Though it wasn’t glamorous, she knew that the halfway house was priceless in it’s own way. At present there were sixteen residents, aged between fourteen and seventeen, both male and female. Many of them had been in trouble with the law, all of them had had run-ins with drugs, and for some, there were no families for them to run back to. The institution had been set up twenty years earlier by a couple who had lost their only son to drugs, and it had been a big success, for they had insisted on employing people based on their compassion skills and life experience rather than their educational diplomas. Yes, there were qualified counsellors who worked at the house, but the residents often found it more of a comfort to confide their fears and their problems in people like Sadie, who had been there and who understood what they were feeling.
Jessica was another favourite, for, although she had never tried drugs herself, she had grown up in a household with a mother who had battled a drug habit her whole life, and she understood all too well the pain that they could cause. This special knowledge had allowed them to bridge many gaps, and help many young people regain their footing on the right path. That wasn’t to say that every story was a success, but they had more than done their bit for troubled teens over the past twenty years.
Since they only took residents aged eighteen or below, Sadie herself had been too old by the time she’d finally admitted to her problems and decided to get help. In any case, her own treatment had been part of a court settled deal, and had been carefully monitored. And yet, working in the environment that she did had done as much for her as anything else since she’d turned over a new leaf, for it had made her realise that she could make a difference in someone’s life.
“Morning, Sadie, Morning Jessica.” Chevonne, the house’s oldest resident sent them a lazy smile from where she was lounging on the sofa, watching tv. “Rumour is you guys have something planned for us, huh?”
“Only if you’re good.” Jessica bantered back.
“Hah, some hope.” Chevonne laughed. “Well? C’mon, spill! What’s the story? Did you hook this band to come play for us or not?”
“They’re coming.” Jessica relented.
“Whoo! Way to go, Jess!” One of the other residents, Tony exclaimed. “We’re gonna have a concert! When they coming?”
“This morning. So don’t scare them off!” Jessica laughed.
“Scare them? You kidding me?” Tony demanded. “I’ve seen them! Jewel are hot, man!”
“You are obsessed with one thing.” Chevonne sent him a withering look.
“Hey, I’ve been obsessed with worse.” Tony shrugged flippantly. “Chill, Chevonne.”
Sadie eyed them both with amusement. They had been at the hostel almost a year, and had been friends almost from the start, bringing each other carefully through the battle they had both faced. She was fond of them both, remembering as she did how confrontational Chevonne had been to her at first, and how, in the end the girl had broken down in tears, with Sadie the only one there to comfort her. It had been her first big test, for she had had noone’s guidance to fall back on, but somehow she had known what to say, and since then Chevonne had been very different – more relaxed and less confrontational, if as tough and as blunt-spoken as ever she had been before. Now she was working her way back into school, planning her future with interest and eagerness, and Sadie knew that she’d played a little part in that. Chevonne reminded Sadie a lot of her own battle, and for that reason there was a special rapport between them – whenever she was upset or tempted to go back, Chevonne would only ever confide in Sadie.
“What d’ya want us to do?” a girl put in from the corner. “Bow down and kiss their feet or somethin’?”
“Don’t be daft, Louise.” Sadie shook her head. “Jess and I agreed that noone should be made to come see what’s going on – it’s up to you. This is just a little treat for all of your hard work, that’s all. Don’t you guys think you deserve a treat?”
“Bring ‘em on!” Tony exclaimed. Jessica laughed.
“You are gonna scare them.” She chided him playfully. “Remember, they’re not from round here, okay? Treat ‘em nice.”
“Lot of fuss about a bunch of dumb yanks if y’ask me.” Louise muttered. “You won’t catch me wasting my time on ‘em.”
And with that she got to her feet, stalking out of the room. Sadie and Jessica exchanged looks.
“Ignore Lou, she’s freaked.” Tony shrugged. “I think it’s cool that Jewel are coming! Hey, do you think any of ‘em are single?”
“Honey, they’re too old for you.” Chevonne told him dryly. “And you’re way too immature for them, so quit dreamin’, huh? What are a group of celebrities gonna want with a wasted out dopehead like you, huh?”
“Hey, I resent that!” Tony retorted, his tone clearly stating the opposite. “I’m no more a dopehead than you are, Chevonne Demarr!”
“You’re both hopeless.” Jessica groaned. “Wanna help us out and spread the word around? We’ve a lot to do before they arrive.”
“Sure, might as well.” Tony shrugged, getting to his feet. “C’mon, Chevonne…get off your backside and move it, huh?”
“I’m coming, I’m coming.” Chevonne rolled her eyes. “Geez, gimme a break!”
Sadie moved closer to Jessica, as the two residents left the main room still bantering.
“Do you think we got a problem with Louise?” She murmured.
“They’re all problems.” Jessica frowned. “If you know what I mean.”
“Yeah, but she never seems to wanna do anything the others do. The whole foundation of this place is team spirit and helping each other out.” Sadie replied. “She’s a fifteen year old kid, Jess, her parents have booted her out, she has nowhere to go other than here, she’s trying to deal with a drug habit…do you think I should talk to her? See if I can get her to open up?”
“If you can’t get through to her, noone can.” Jessica replied. “You’re a natural in this job, Sadie…look at Chevonne! If it hadn’t been for you, that girl would be back out on the street trying to get money to buy smack! Now she’s looking at college prospectuses, and in September she’s enrolled on a media course. That’s all thanks to you…if anyone can help Louise, it’s you.”
“Chevonne and I aren’t so different.” Sadie responded. “She doesn’t want to go home, and nor did I, not really. Same drug…same police record, pretty much. We had stuff in common – she just needed an Alyssa to help her through like I had.”
“Well, she did have you.” Jessica grinned. “You’re a total different person with these kids than you are out of here, you know. When you first came I was sure you’d never fit in, yet they love you best of all, because you’re on the same level and you understand them.”
“I earn my paycheque.” Sadie said dryly. “Hey, hadn’t we better get clearing the dining room if that’s where we’re setting up for Jewel?”
“Yep.” Jessica nodded. “You go on ahead, I’ll go round up some helpers – there must be more staff around than just us!”
“Okay.” Sadie winked. “See you in a few!”
Chapter One: Jewel In England
Chapter Two: Lovesick
Chapter Three: A New Sensation
Chapter Four: Cameron
Chapter Five: Sadie Gets A Warning
Chapter Six: A Little Love Advice
Chapter Seven: Topaz Makes A Friend
Chapter Eight: At The Halfway House
Chapter Nine: A Shock For Sadie
Chapter Ten: A Family Encounter
Chapter Eleven: Copper Gets A Fan
Chapter Twelve: A Burns Family Secret
Chapter Thirteen: Thicker Than Water
Chapter Fourteen: A Phonecall