Halloween Party from Hell
Home Up Halloween Party

   

THE 1981 SSQQ
HALLOWEEN PARTY FROM
HELL


This is the absolute true story of the longest and most frightening night of my entire life. 

I have always loved throwing my Halloween Party.  Dancing and Costumes go so well together and it is always fun to promote a little mischief.   People appreciate my efforts.  They compliment me on hosting such a well-run party.  Of course I enjoy the kind words, but inwardly I always smile at the part about the 'well-run party'.  These people of course have no idea about all the screw-ups I made in the early years while I was learning my lessons. 

Of course most of the screw-ups occurred at one particular party.  The 1981 Halloween Party from Hell was a catastrophe of unbelievable proportions. 

Get ready to be amazed at all the crazy stuff that happened.  I promise you will not be disappointed.  This is definitely one Hell of a good story.

 

PART ONE - THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION

 

1 - THE PICTURES TELL THE STORY

There were three important developments in the weeks leading up to the 1981 Halloween Party .  The first significant development was an offer made by my friend Jim Fogo to take photographs. 

The 1981 Party was our fourth party in a growing tradition.  Up till now other than a snapshot here and there, we hadn't taken pictures very seriously at the previous parties.  Fogo's offer to take pictures of all the guests seemed like a great idea.  Without any hesitation I gave him permission to snap away. At the time I never anticipated that these pictures would help catapult our Halloween Party to fame.

During the party, Fogo took pictures all night long.  I immediately frowned when I realized Fogo had decided to use his photography as a babe magnet.   I had forgotten Fogo was a serious skirt chaser. 

There was one pretty girl in particular that Fogo took a shine to.  Her name was Cindy Sawin.  Cindy, 21, was the daughter of Pat Sawin, one of my favorite dance assistants.  Like a paparazzi tailing a movie star, Fogo followed Cindy wherever she went all night long.   I reminded Fogo that Cindy was much too young for him.  He said he didn't care.  She was absolutely beautiful and Fogo had no self-control.  I think half the pictures Fogo took ended up with Cindy in them. 

As far Cindy was concerned, she spurned his attentions.  She could have cared less.  In fact she left the party early.  Thank goodness.  At least now Fogo was emotionally capable of aiming his camera at someone else. 

Despite my misgivings at his intentions, Fogo did us quite a favor.  When Fogo presented his collection to me a week after the 1981 party, I was flabbergasted at how well his pictures had turned out.  I was tickled pink to see the big smiles and the great costumes.   People had obviously had a great time at my party!  I was so pleased.

In fact, I was so impressed with Fogo's pictures, I immediately wanted to share his pictures with all my dance students.  So I went out and got a poster at Texas Art Supply.  There were about 80 pictures, 40 of Cindy and 40 of the other guests.  I glued the best pictures on the poster.  Then I hung the poster up at the studio for all the world to see.  As a result, even though we had three previous Halloween parties, the 1981 Halloween Party became our first party to ever have a Halloween Poster.  

The guests absolutely loved seeing the poster.  I grinned as everyone who had been at the party circled around the poster to laugh and tease each other.  I was surprised to realize that even the people who didn't come to the party were interested.  Several of them whispered to me how much they regretted missing the party now that they had seen the pictures.  They were so taken aback with all the fun we were having that they became determined to make the next year's party.  

Thanks to Jim Fogo, this is how I discovered how much people appreciated getting their picture taken and having it displayed. The 1981 Halloween Party marked the way for photos to become a major part of our formula for success.  These pictures were so phenomenal at promoting future parties, taking pictures became a focal point from that point on.  

Also thanks to Fogo, for the purposes of this unusual tale, we also get to see some pictures to help explain how crazy things were as this story unfolds. 

2 - RICK IS IN THE PENALTY BOX FOR BAD BEHAVIOR

The 1981 Halloween Party is the only SSQQ Halloween Party I have ever attended on my own.  This was significant.  The fact that I did not have a date for this party would play a major role in the outcome. 

1981 was the year I was finishing out my final phase of punishment for the greatest single mistake of my life. 

I had been dating a married woman for three years.  I will call her Christie, although that is not her real name.   This affair was the dumbest thing I have ever done.  Thanks to me, Christie had separated from her husband.  Thanks to me, Christie was constantly consumed with guilt over leaving her small child.  Indeed this affair cost me and the other people involved dearly.  In case you are curious, the insanity of this relationship is described in thorough gory detail in the adventure known as Risky Business

1981 was the year that Christie was trying hard to rekindle her relationship with her husband.  Although Christie did eventually re-connect with her husband in May 1982, this outcome was still in doubt as the 1981 Halloween Party rolled around.  

Christie was not the most secure woman in the world.  Indeed Christie insisted on keeping me around as her fall-back option just in case her attempt failed.  In other words, I was not allowed to date other women.  Christie threatened to destroy my dance studio if I strayed.  In other words, it was okay for her to actively pursue her ex-husband, but I had to behave until she made up he mind which direction to go.  Doesn't sound fair, does it?  Actually, it wasn't her blackmail threat that kept me in line, but rather my guilt over my mistake that made the difference.  I was willing to avoid dating if it meant she could save her marriage.  Christie had been instrumental in helping me get my business started.  Through an odd combination of guilt and gratitude, I decided to bide my time.  Since Christie was making steady progress towards reconciliation, I was more than happy to cooperate.

Throughout 1981 I had waited on the sidelines while my friend Christie vacillated between me and her former husband.  We had spent the entire year slowly drifting apart.   Things were rocky between Christie and her ex.  After all, there were a lot of wounds that had to heal.  Occasionally she would have a major disagreement with her former husband and come running back to me for reassurance.  But for the most part I believed a reunion with her ex-husband was inevitable. 

As Halloween approached, I had the feeling that Christie had just about made her mind up for good.  Sure enough, my instincts were right.

A couple days before the party, Christie told me over the phone that she wouldn't be with me at the party this year.  This announcement was a surprise.  After all, Christie had been instrumental in organizing the all of the first three Halloween Parties.  She loved Halloween just as much as I did.  As you can see from our 1979 and 1980 Halloween pictures, Halloween was a special time for us.

But this year Christie had chosen to spend the evening with her former husband.  As they say, this was a major omen, quite possibly the beginning of the end.  For Christie to miss this party meant the time she would still be in my life was growing short. 

I had some mixed feelings.  After all, my past four years had been wrapped around this woman.  Nevertheless, despite my sadness, I was completely okay with her decision. 

In fact, I had been hoping for this moment for some time.  I had been waiting for the chance to get my freedom back.   My life spent in Limbo was getting tiresome.

I was still technically Christie's boyfriend, but these days we spent very little time together. 

During my time in Limbo, I had discovered that not chasing women freed up a lot of energy.  Without one of my favorite pastimes to keep me amused, I found I had a lot of extra time on my hands.  SSQQ had grown by leaps and bounds in 1981 because I turned every bit of that energy into developing my dance studio.   Now I wanted my 1981 Halloween Party to be a grand triumph. 

Now as the party was just two days away, I realized I would be running the party alone for the first time.  I wanted to prove to myself I could have a successful Halloween Party without Christie's help. 
I gave it some thought and decided I could pull it off.  Put up the decorations and get the music ready.  What else did I have to do?

Back in those days, I had a different much approach to the Halloween Party.  I figured the Halloween Party would pretty much run itself.  I was more interested in having a good time than I was in being a responsible studio owner who keeps a close and sober eye on the proceedings.  

Being free is kind of fun sometimes.  Although I had no intention of chasing women at the party that night, I was definitely ready to let loose.  I had a great time being a wild and crazy Sailor Boy.  I danced with abandon, I flirted at every opportunity, and did whatever I felt like doing as the evening wore on.  Despite the invisible strings attached, I didn't see any reason why I couldn't scout for future girlfriends given the circumstances.

As it turned out, there was a major consequence of my independent status that night.  Since I didn't have to answer to anyone, I was free to drink as much as I wanted to.  However, no one was around to keep me in line when my drinking got out of control.  This small detail would play a very significant role in the evening's outcome.


3 - BOB JOB TWISTS MY ARM

Bob Job was my best friend.  In his spare time, Bob was
a brilliant chemist who worked for Shell.  But his greatest love was the Texas Twostep.  Throughout 1981, Bob and I had been working out the kinks in this new dance we called the Western Swing.  He and I spent a lot of time together at the old Winchester Club,  the place where SSQQ got its name.

I loved Bob, but he was always getting me into trouble.  For example, one time he almost got me beat up by a bunch of Mexicans in Acapulco.  And of course he would be the main reason tonight's 1981 Halloween Party went to ruin.   With friends like Bob, who needs enemies? 

Tonight's party seemed so promising.  Back in the early years of the Halloween Party, I was always looking for ways to make my Party better.  But in 1981 I was more determined than ever to do well.  I had some serious atonement to attend to.   I really messed up the previous year.

The 1980 Halloween Party had been going very well until I made a terrible decision.  A stranger had asked my permission to put dance wax on the floor.  However he didn't know what he was doing.  He put the entire contents of the can down on the floor.  Suddenly no one could stand up any more, much less dance.  When we tried to sweep it up, the dance wax simply coated the floor like glue.  We had no idea how to get rid of the stuff.  Since any further dancing meant risking life and limb, everyone began to head for the exit door.  The 1980 party ended over an hour early thanks to my stupidity.

It was now one year later, but I was still bitter about ruining my favorite party of the year.  After the dance wax fiasco of 1980, memories of all those people leaving the party an hour early still burned in my soul.  I was determined to do much better this year As the 1981 Party approached, I decided to ask my best friend Bob if he had any good ideas how to make the next party better.  

Bob smiled immediately.  He was so glad I had asked!  Bob said that back in college he was always in charge of mixing the brew for his frat parties.  Bob told me he could mix a wicked punch! 

Oh really?  Tell me more.

Bob
promised me his strange brew would definitely liven things up.  Thanks to his amazing ability to add just the right amount of certain chemicals to the punch, he assured me this would become the best party I had ever thrown. 

That's exactly what I wanted to hear!  Caught up in his enthusiasm, I was convinced this was a great idea. I had no idea of the consequences, so I gave him carte blanche to go about his mission. 

Big mistake. 
Do I always have to learn everything the hard way?? 

As it turned out, my decision to put Bob in charge of the punch would pave the way to the SSQQ Halloween Party From Hell.



 

 

PART TWO - THE 1981 HALLOWEEN PARTY

 

THE PARTY BEGINS

You would have never guessed we were on the Eve of Destruction if you came to the Party early.  The 1981 Halloween P
arty was fabulous right from the very start.  The dance floor was crowded and people were chatting.  Fogo was taking pictures right and left.  Everyone was smiling for the camera.  I could not have been more pleased.

Truth be told, if the 1981 Party had ended at 11 pm, this party would have gone down in history as easily our best Halloween Party to date.  Who needs Christie?

As you can see from the picture,
Bob's punch was DEFINITELY the hit of the party!!   His strange brew was popular with everyone.


Back in those days, the SSQQ Halloween Party was BYOB.  We didn't have a cooler. Nor did we have beer, wine, or soft drinks.  Therefore Bob's Magic Punch was the answer if you didn't bring your own stuff and wished to become chemically altered.

There was a long line as many of us availed ourselves of the delicious punch.  Yum.  It tasted great!

Throughout the night, Bob hovered over his Wizard's Cauldron making sure there was an ample supply for everyone.  Bob's concoction not only tasted delicious, it had our guests smiling from the get-go.  Everyone was misbehaving and people were having a great time.

As you can see, Bob had found the perfect costume for the occasion.  Dressed as the Mad Wizard with cloak and conical Magician's hat, Bob certainly looked the part as he stirred his strange brew.  Adding to the Magic was the eerie smoke that emanated from the Cauldron. Bob had added dry ice to give his work the appearance of a mystical Wizard's Potion.  The illusion was very impressive!  There were plenty of people ready to try some.  

It didn't hurt that he had his date, a lady named Carol , serving as his beautiful Magician's Assistant.  Everyone got in line so Carol could ladle up the brew.  As she filled each person's cup, she warned people with a wink and a cackle that Bob was trying to poison them.  Wha ha hah ha ha!  No truer words have ever been spoken.

The strange brew worked like a charm.  Thanks to
Bob's Wicked Wizard Punch, the party quickly burst into animation.  Everyone was having a great time!   We danced, we laughed, we carried on, we made complete fools of ourselves. Gosh we were having fun!  For the first two hours, the 1981 Halloween Party was a spectacular success.  


And now it was time for my big surprise!


THE NAKED DANCERS ARRIVE

Two hours into the party my guests were treated to some spectacular dancing entertainment.  I hadn't told anyone that I had hired professional dancers to perform.  It was an idea I had to boost the energy of the party.  However I had arranged things at the last moment.  Since I wasn't completely sure if the dancers would actually show up, I kept it my little secret.


Back in the early days of SSQQ, I subleased two back rooms at our Bissonnet location from Dance Arts Unlimited.  

Dance Arts was owned by
Glen Hunsucker.  Glen was not only my landlord, he was also the man who taught me how to dance.

Glen was a very gifted dancer in his own right. However he took his greatest pride in training his dance company.  Glen was a marvelous choreographer.  His dancers reflected his creativity.  My only regret was not seeing Glen himself dance more.  Glen typically preferred not to perform in his own shows for fear he would dominate his protégés.  Although he was right, I selfishly wished he would change his mind.

Still, I had seen the dancers perform several times.  Glen believed in making it sexy.  The best way to describe these kids was "hot hot hot"!   And that's an understatement.


During a private lesson that week, I spoke to Glen about having his company perform for us.  Glen agreed to let me hire his dance company to perform at our party.  However Glen said he had another engagement, so he wouldn't be there himself.  He said to look for the dancers to arrive around 11 pm.

That night a gasp went out as 5 women and one man appeared to perform for us.  The moment I saw them, I took a deep gulp.

Glen had
not told me which routine they were going to perform, but I definitely didn't expect their Jungle Fever act.  Uh oh.  This could be trouble. 

Sure enough, the girls took off their robes.  The men's eyes lit up!  Ohmygosh, these girls were practically
naked


They say pictures are worth a thousand words.   That saying is absolutely accurate.  As you can see thanks to Fogo's expert photography, these
outfits left nothing to the imagination.  Every curve on their perfect bodies was on display for the world to see.  Do you think if I wrote a thousand words you would begin to understand just how naked these girls were?  And do you think my thousand words would explain why the men were practically falling over each other to get closer?   The pictures explain it all.   

As my intuition had warned me, not everyone was happy to see the performers.  The women in the audience shot me deeply disapproving glances.  If looks could kill!

But I knew the guys would protect me.  The guys
clearly didn't seem to mind at all.  They were having trouble keeping their tongues in their mouth and their eyes in their sockets.  Drool was coming out of their mouths.  These men were totally in lust.

I think the pictures are convincing enough, but let me add these girls were very pretty.  They had great bodies and they were terrific dancers.  Their effect on my men was nothing short of lethal.

I was thrilled they had come.  I watched them practice at Dance Arts all the time, but my students have never seen them perform before.  Even though we all shared the studio, the two worlds never crossed.  Usually the rehearsals took place after my classes were over, but Glen would close the infamous door to Room One as well.  He preferred the privacy.  Now my guests would see first hand just how awesome Glen's dance company really was. 


I was not alone as I
admired the awesome figures and beauty of each dancer.  They were poetry in motion.  Our women were still in shock at the outfits, but I have never seen more grateful men in my life.  They quickly pushed the women to the back of the pack so they could get front row views.   These women were so hot!

The performance was just as spectacular as the outfits.  The six dancers put on quite a show.  Their dancing was lurid, suggestive, and (if you were a man) quite arousing.   The girls shimmied their chests, worked their hips, undulated their waists, and gyrated with wild abandonment.  Glen had meant for the dancing to be sexy and provocative.  Judging from the reactions of the men, Glen had clearly succeeded.  They were panting with desire. 

Thanks to Bob's Wicked Wizard Punch, the men were already pretty lit.  This was better than a topless bar!   The girls were not only naked and beautiful, they could really dance!  You have no idea the effect that frenzied dancing has on men till you see it first hand.  By the time it was over, the men were barely hanging onto any semblance of self-control.  Too many bouncing breasts.  Too many long legs and naked waists.  These girls were so sexy that every guy in the place was really turned on. 

Our men were screaming their heads off with applause!  I was actually kind of embarrassed at how out of control the guys were. 

Then something odd happened - the girls cut their performance short.  They were supposed to dance a second number, but instead the five girls huddled after their first number.  Then without warning they grabbed their robes and headed for the door!  After they saw our reaction to the Jungle Fever number, I honestly think they were frightened. 

These girls weren't stupid.  They had noticed our blatant lust and decided to get the hell out of there while they still could.  Previously these women had only performed on remote stages at gay bars. This is politically incorrect to say, but I doubt these ladies had ever realized the potent effect of their gorgeous figures and dancing abilities on heterosexual men.  Tonight they were dancing within reaching distance of our men who were howling like wolves.  It didn't take them long to figure out how uncomfortable this situation was.

Sure enough, the moment their number was over, right in the middle of our applause, the five women sprinted out of sight with the young man struggling to catch up.  They were gone before we knew it. 

I am surprised the men didn't chase them.  I guess they were too drunk to react.  These young ladies were gone
before we could grab any of them.   And don't think for a moment we didn't want to... 

GROUP PHOTO

I am sorry to say the Jungle Frenzy Performance turned out to be a huge mistake.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, but the performance really backfired on me. 

Our guests began to leave in droves immediately after the performance.  Jim Fogo (pictured up in the front wearing the SSQQ yellow shirt) was so alarmed at all the people leaving, he suggested we do a group photograph before anyone else could escape.

There had been over 100 people at the party, but as you can see, only 21 appear in the picture below.  To save reputations, I will not list any names.

Every picture tells a story and this picture is no exception.  This picture reveals that Bob Job and his date are nowhere to be seen.  They are missing from the picture.  I will explain why not in a moment. 

And please note my condition.  Yep, that's me in front.  Sailor Boy was midway through his steady descent into oblivion. 

WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE - WE ALL GO WILD!

Obviously the Jazz Performance was spectacular.  So why do I point to the Jungle Fever performance as the beginning of the end? 

First and foremost, many of the women at the party were really angry.  For starters, they were really pissed off at me for bringing naked women into the studio.  You have no idea how furious some of those women were, believe me.  And maybe they had good reason.   Their men were starting to act like sex fiends!

Watching their dates and husbands make fools of themselves was very disturbing.  The looks they saw on their guys should not be seen in polite company.  The men were hootin' and hollerin' like they were at some titty bar.  And many of the guys were out of control. Inhibitions were shattered. They were so aroused they were grabbing at every female in sight.  This was like a Frat Party gone mad. Their women didn't appreciate how frisky the men were with their hands.

So the moment the Jungle Dancers made their escape, many women in the audience decided that was it.  They grabbed their husbands and dates by the hair and hauled them out of the building.  Seeing their men were barely under control as it was, the women were determined to get their men out of there before he made some mistake he would come to regret. 

Interestingly, one of the female backlash casualties was my friend Bob Job.  He was not in the group picture above because his date told him it was time to go.  The look in Carol's eyes said 'NOW'.   Bob said okay, but first he had to clean up the Wizard's station a little...

We took the Group Photo around 11:30 pm.  We were now 2 1/2 hours into the party. Typically the party is still going strong at Midnight.  That's when I announce "Last Song".  At this point many of the guests are kind enough to stay and help me clean up.  With everyone pitching in, the place is clean in about 30 minutes. Then we all go home and get some rest.  But tonight cleaning up was the last thing on people's minds.

The sexy
jazz performance had totally altered the rhythm of my party.  I was being given a first-hand lesson on how Men's Clubs stay in business - Watching naked women dance makes men want to drink.

Sure enough, immediately after the Group Photo, the men got up like a herd of buffalos, and stampeded for another round of Bob's Wicked Wizard Punch.... and then another. 

From the looks of the pictures, I guess the women did their share of drinking too.  Maybe they got caught up in the men's fervor.  I had never seen so much drinking at an SSQQ party before.  Unfortunately I was way too blitzed to do anything about it.  Actually, now that I think back, I was way beyond even caring.

I was so drunk I was barely holding on to consciousness.



Something was very different tonight.  For one thing, the dance floor was deserted.  The dancing had a lot of trouble starting up again.  It wasn't like we didn't try.  After the Group Photo, I put the music back on and the guests attempted to dance but it was obvious they weren't doing very well.  The men staggered around and realized with embarrassment they couldn't remember any moves.  Finally after one or two songs, people
gave up in frustration and left the dance floor. 

Soon the dancing had stopped completely.  That was very strange.  Of course one reason was Bob's Magic Punch.  Social dancing and drinking don't actually mix very well.  Sure, a drink or two relaxes everyone, but too much drinking destroys the mental aspect necessary to remember patterns and leads. 

Besides the booze, Jungle Fever had ruined the men for the rest of the evening.  The dancing had made the men so horny, they couldn't even begin to concentrate on Twostep or Swing dancing.  They had one thing on their mind. They were flush with sexual excitement.   

So the men began drinking as a way to cope with their arousal.  That's when they discovered they were useless on the dance floor.  Unable to dance, they drank some more.

These people were too clumsy to dance, but they were also too impaired to drive.  So they were forced to stick around.  Now a curious thing started to happen - people began to act like stark raving maniacs!   Some people laughed hysterically.  Other people began to wander around the studio aimlessly like zombies.  

At this point, the men couldn't contain their libido much longer.  Too much booze and too many naked dancers.  There were roving eyes and grabby hands everywhere.  Fortunately the women who were still there didn't seem to mind much. The people who stuck around began an embarrassing descent into wickedness.  The men started grabbing the women and drag them over to the couches in the hallway.  The women didn't seem to mind a bit. 

The picture was pretty bizarre.   Of course Halloween is all about letting loose and getting a little crazy, but something was clearly wrong here.  These people were way beyond "a little crazy".  They were drunk out of their minds and definitely feeling no pain.  I have never had a studio party where the entire group was this drunk (except perhaps the 1989 Toga Party).  

This is tricky to explain.  After all, people had been drunk all night long.  But the behavior now was way beyond 'drunk'.  These people were hollering and staggering.  Something had changed and I was too drunk myself to figure it out.

The place was filled with mad men from an asylum!   What in the hell was happening?


THE WICKED WIZARD LEAVES US A PRESENT

While I am correct in blaming the Jungle Dancing for sending the party downhill, the Jazz Dancers were definitely not the only culprits.  They had plenty of help from a certain Wizard.

Unbeknownst to the remaining guests, our Wicked Wizard had cast an evil spell over us. 

Obviously the drinking explains the bizarre behavior, but the "degree" to which we lost control was new.  It is true that most us were somewhat drunk before the Jazz dancers made their appearance, but our condition then was nothing compared to this insanity. 

Throughout the evening,
Bob had spiked the punch with Ever Clear, an alcoholic additive that had no taste and no smell.  And Bob did not hold back. He used a lot of Ever Clear.

However we were big kids.  No one was fooled.  We all knew the Punch was spiked.  And by continuing to dance, we kept it under control.  We danced so hard that the alcohol really didn't affect us like it did now. 

It was AFTER the Dance Performance that our Wizard took us down his desolate path to destruction. 

This is when the Halloween Party from Hell began.


After the Dance Performance, Fogo had rounded us all up for the Group Photo.    While we were getting our picture taken in Room One, something very peculiar happening in another room.  Remember I pointed out that Bob was missing from the picture?   It seems that at the same time we were getting our picture taken in Room One, my friend Bob was next door in the Punch Room making some last minute alterations to his Wicked Wizards Punch.

Bob had to leave early because his date Carol insisted it was time to go.  Like many of the other women, Carol had decided the Jungle Frenzy marked the official end of the party for her and for Magic Bobby as well. 

Bob didn't protest one bit.  By the look in her eyes, Bob knew she meant it. 

However our Wizard had a problem.  Carol was insistent that they leave PRONTO.  But Bob still had some extra bottles of Ever Clear left.    In his haste to leave, Bob decided he didn't have the time to bag it all up and take it home. 

Bob decided there wasn't that much left anyway.  So he poured all his remaining supply of Ever Clear into the punch

Then Bob and Carol left the party without bothering to warn anyone. 

Maybe Bob was a little drunk himself and not thinking clearly, but this move was a killer.  His decision completely pushed us over the Edge of No Return. 

By the time we made our Buffalo Stampede to the Punch Room after the Group Photo, Bob had already left the scene of the crime.   But the Wizard left a present for us - as we entered the Punch Room we were delighted to find a freshly-mixed brew waiting for us!  Woowee, let's have some right now!

Yes, there it was.  The smoking cauldron with its delicious punch was sitting on the table calling to us.  This deadly Cauldron had been left behind to seal our doom.

We never had a chance. The Cauldron with its seductive brew was irresistible. The Cauldron called to us - Drink me!  You know you want me.  Drink me!  

And drink we did.  We
drank as if there were no consequences.  We had no idea Bob had made his Wicked Wizard Punch twice as deadly.  As a result, soon many of us were in big big trouble.  We all began to fall off the cliff into the Abyss.

Talk about never seeing the Punch coming!  We never knew the punch was double-spikedAnd like idiots we kept going back for more because we were too far gone to know any better.

Soon t
here was not even one remotely sober person in the whole building! 

This time we couldn't dance it off.  We were too tired and we were so drunk that none of us could even dance!!  In fact, even standing up was a problem. The floor quickly became deserted.  A couple people who could still move left, but the remaining twenty people drifted to the Hallway where the couches were.  They realized they were way too drunk to drive.  It was time to find a place to collapse. 

The partiers staggered around like extras from the Night of the Living Dead. They searched for
a chair or a couch to fall down on.  Soon every seat in the house was taken.   But there weren't enough couch spots for everyone.  No problem.  The rest of the people sat down wherever they happened to be because they were too damn drunk to stand up any more.  Some people would fall on top of someone already sitting on a couch.  Or they would slouch on the floor up against a couch.  Or the men would drag the women onto the couches with them.  The women were far too gone to put up much resistance.

That's when the hysterical laughter began.  They were laughing their drunken butts off.  For a while, the scene resembled a Roman Bacchanalia (see picture).  I don't remember much, but I believe this was also the point were people began to engage in serious hugging and smooching.  

And I am not even sure if they knew exactly who they were smooching and hugging... it was very dark and there were a lot of bodies crowded onto those couches.  Bodies were wiggling everywhere.

I am sure you are curious to know if there are any more pictures, but you are out of luck.  I have no other pictures to share for a simple reason - he was off-duty.  When I last saw him, Photographer Fogo was happily sandwiched between several women and much too busy to snap any further pictures.  

The Smooching Orgy didn't last very long for a peculiar reason - the Kissers started to fall asleep. 

Most of those people weren't in very good shape.  They were so drunk they could barely move.  They were also exhausted.  In an odd twist on 'It takes Two to Tango', people would be forced to give up when the person they were kissing dozed off.  At that point the other person either went home or decided to sit there hoping Sleeping Beauty would wake up. 

As one man indelicately explained to me a few weeks after the party, the woman he had hooked up with passed out right in the middle of their kiss.  She just lay there with her head back and her mouth wide open.  It looked like she was dead!  He shook her a little bit, but it did no good.  Then she started to snore!  That was too weird for him so he left.  That's right; he just left her there sleeping on the couch!   He said they hadn't come together and he didn't feel like waiting for her to wake up.  Such a Prince Charming!  Now there's a twist on the Cinderella tale for you.


He said there were two other couples who saw him get up.  They stopped smooching and looked around.  Whey they saw everyone else was asleep, they decided to follow him out the door.

As he walked out, there were only about seven people left.  Not one of them was conscious. Like me, they were completely passed out on those couches.  Sorry to be gruesome, but t
he Hallway looked exactly like the infamous Jim Jones massacre in Guyana years back.   Bodies were strewn everywhere!!

Murder.  
Bob had killed every single one of us.

I don't have any other details to share about the SSQQ Orgy because I was one of the people who was out cold.  

I can at least assure you I didn't do any of the smooching.  Not that I didn't want to, but I was still committed to behaving myself for a change.  Actually I didn't have any problems with temptation for a simple reason.  It had been a really long day.  I was on the verge of collapse.   I had started decorating at 10 am and had not sat down once till now.  My head was spinning as I staggered over to the nearest couch.  I had never been this drunk before.  I was barely conscious when the smooching began.  It was time for a rest.  I closed my eyes just for a moment. 

Five seconds later I passed out.
 

PART THREE - MY RUDE AWAKENING

 

Bob's massacre was complete.  I was out cold.  No, that's not me on that table, but the picture pretty much sums up my state of being.  I was totally and completely and utterly blotto.

I had drunk as much and maybe more than anyone.  I had started drinking the moment Bob got to the studio and hadn't stopped since.  

I was way way way over the cliff.  My head was spinning.  

Like I said, after the dancing disappeared,
I found a couch in the hallway and sat down to close my eyes for a just a brief moment.  

Big mistake.  I passed out. 

Many hours later I awoke in the dead of the night.  I did not wake up quickly, but rather just lay there for a moment with my eyes open.  I did not even lift my head.  My first impression was how dark it was.  Finally I lifted my head and looked around.  It was so dark it took me a moment to even figure out where I was.  Oh damn, I was still here at the studio!

I was in a lot of pain, but my biggest concern was how dark it was in the hallway.

In order to explain the rest of this story, I need to use a map.  The studio was designed differently back in 1981 than it is today.  The Hallway from Hell was a major artery that connected seven rooms together plus another hallway.   This hallway was the focal point of the studio.  The couches were located here.

There were three dance rooms.   Glen used Room One every night for his dance classes and rehearsals.  I conducted my dance classes in both Room 2 (the Punch Room) and Room 3.  I labeled Room 2 as the Punch Room because that's where Bob had mixed his brew. 


There were two hallways.  Me and the rest of the Zombies had passed out on the couches which lined the Hallway from Hell.

In addition to the Hallway from Hell, the second hallway went out to the front door and Bissonnet. This Exit hallway was long and narrow.

   

When I awoke from my drunken stupor, I was surrounded by an empty sea of darkness.

Someone had turned off every light in the building.
    The studio appeared to me exactly like the picture on the left.

The black area of the map represents all the different rooms with lights turned out.  However thanks to a nearby Coke machine I had some dim light to see by.  I had passed out near Room One at the far end of the Hallway from Hell  (see the gray portion of the map). 

Since it was so dark and I was so wasted, it took me a while to come to my senses.  I didn't have a watch, but looking back I estimate it was somewhere to 4 am.  I had been asleep for about four hours.  Now I groaned.   What on earth had happened to me? 

In the dim light, I tried to look around.   To my left was Room One.  The lights were off, but I could hear the dance music still blaring at full blast.  I wished whoever had turned off the lights had been kind enough to turn off the music too.  The loud Rock music was hard to take.  How did I ever sleep with that music blasting?

It actually took me a few minutes to realize no one was sitting next to me.  I could have sworn there were other people on the couch with me.  Where did they go?

To my right was the long Hallway from Hell barely illuminated by the Coke machine.  I peered through the darkness.  That's when I realized
something was wrong.  Where the heck was everybody?  Oh shit.  I had just figured out there was no one left in the hallway!!!  

You are going to laugh at this one.  For a second I speculated maybe they were in another room waiting for me to wake up so they could help me clean up.  Talk about a fairy tale.   Dream on.  Nope, the party was over; turn out the lights.  Indeed, every light in the building was turned off.   Everyone else had left.

The realization that I had been abandoned hit me like a ton of bricks.  I was in this huge dark studio all by myself. 

I bet the front door wasn't even locked!

I shuddered.  Oh geez.  Anybody could have walked in.  I could barely stand the thought.

Earlier there had been a hundred people at the party.  And when I had passed out about four hours ago, the hallway was lined with two dozen people nearly as wasted as me.  But now I was the only one
left. 

I assumed all the guests who had been on those couches had managed to get up and go home while I slept.   What other explanation could there be?

As I sat in the darkness on my lonely couch, it
freaked me out to realize I was the only person left in the building. 

This was way too creepy.

HELPLESS

As I sobered up, I was stunned at my vulnerability.  Not only had every guest left me behind while I was unconscious, this studio was wide open on Halloween Night, the night when all the Psychos go trick or treating!  Any monster, pervert or criminal could have wandered in the building while I was passed out and defenseless.  At this thought I was seized by fear.  The possibilities were horrible.  

Maybe I was in danger right now!  Holy Guacamole!  Was there anyone in the building?  I had no idea what the status of the studio was.  If someone was still here, I would never know because it was too dark to see.  The studio gets very dark when the lights are out because there are no windows.  Weirder still, the music was playing.  The loud rock music coming from the darkened Room One nearby aggravated me.  The music was deafening.  I couldn't possibly hear if there were other sounds in the building or if was someone sneaking up on me. 

No eyes.  No ears.  No one to call for help.  I was alone in the dark.  I felt completely helpless. 

It bothered me to realize for the past several hours, one by one, people had awakened and walked past me on the way to the exit door. This was just pathetic.  Everyone of them must have stared at me laying there passed out.  I suppose I should have felt ashamed of myself, but they were probably just as bad off as I was!  No stone throwing from these people...

Where was Bobby Wizard?  
Even Bob was nowhere to be seen.  Bob had promised to stay and help clean up.  Damn him anyway for getting me into this mess.  Fine friend he was!   

I was alone in this spooky dark studio with that damn music bouncing off the walls.  This was so eerie it felt like a scene from a horror movie.

Now what do I do?  It
was 4 in the morning.  Someone had obviously turned out the lights on their way outI was alone in the dark and defenseless on the creepiest night of the entire year.  I could be attacked or I could be robbed and there was little I could do to protect myself.  I was so weak I couldn't put up much of a fight in this condition.

As I sat there struggling to comprehend my lousy situation, I was angry that no one had awakened me.  Why didn't someone bother to wake me up?  I felt so sick inside to realize I had been laying there unconscious for four hours

Then I began to think how lucky I was to be alive!  I had been completely out of control. 

I shouldn't tell you this, but I have always been on guard when cleaning up at the end of Halloween Parties.  Everyone who comes to our parties is always so friendly and appreciative, but you know and I know that there is could be an element of danger from complete strangers who come to the SSQQ Halloween Party.  What if someone stayed behind to rob me?   

As a result, I have always been extremely cautious at the end of our parties... except for this night.  This was the only time I have ever let my guard down.  You just never know.   It would only take one weirdo to hide in the shadows till everyone left and then...

I couldn't get it out of my mind that after the guests had left, the front door had been unlocked for any stalker or psychopath to walk back in while I slept.  

Although the studio has never been robbed - knock on wood - there have been a few cars broken into over the years at different times.  What if a criminal had been in the parking lot watching people leave? 

Furthermore people wait outside the studio for buses on Bissonnet at all hours of the night.  Sometimes street people wander into the studio asking to use the restroom.  What would have happened if a street person had wandered in tonight while I was passed out?   

I couldn't stand it.  The thought of laying there unconscious and defenseless for all these hours upset me a great deal.  I could easily have been robbed or attacked 

Talk about paranoid!  One horrible possibility after another kept haunting me.  Why did I let my guard down like that?

I could not get my brain to shut up. Spooked by the darkness and that awful music playing in the pitch black room to my left, one gruesome possibility after another flashed across my mind's eye.  This moment was playing out just like a scene from a horror movie like Scream or Halloween and I wasn't a bit happy about it.

Visions of Michael Myers and his slashing knife from Halloween crossed my mind.  Right now this huge empty dance studio was much creepier than I wanted it to be!  I couldn't see.  I couldn't hear.  I was weak.  I was scared.

My head throbbed from all the booze.  I ached everywhere and I had an upset stomach.  I was so angry at myself for losing control.   How stupid can you get? 

This was one of the most
miserable moments ever in my entire life.    

 

 

 

ALONE IN THE DARK

I wallowed in self-pity for quite a while.  Finally I got a grip on my nerves.  I decided to take stock of the situation.   I realized I had one heck of a problem - even in the dim light I could see the mess from the party was still sitting there in the Hallway!  I couldn't see very far, but within my range of sight there was trash laying everywhere.  I was in big trouble.  

My mind drifted back to the previous year's Halloween Party when I had stupidly let someone put dance wax on the floor.  The morning after the party, Glen Hunsucker and his dancers could barely stand up, much less rehearse for their next performance.   Glen warned me if I ever pulled a stunt like that again, I could look for a new studio...

There was a dance rehearsal scheduled for 9 am this Sunday morning.  I was desperate to go home and get more rest.  But after the fiasco of last year's party, I knew Glen Hunsucker would kill me if I went home and left this trash till later.  I had four, maybe five hours to straighten this place up before they arrived.  The drinks and the food had to come up NOW or I was toast. 

But I was too exhausted to move.  My head throbbed and I felt too weak to doing anything.  I was nauseous.  I just wanted to lay back down and go back to sleep.  I was in a bind.  What was I going to do? 

I sat there feeling sorry for myself for a long time.  Finally my paranoia got me going.  I wanted to go back to sleep on this couch, but I knew I never could go back to sleep as long as the door was unlocked.   So I made a deal with myself.  Go lock the door and I could come back and take another nap.  So about ten minutes after I woke up, I reluctantly got up and went down the long hallway to the front of the building. I locked the door and headed back to the couch, my only friend.  

On my way back,
I passed garbage and spilled drinks everywhere.  I groaned as I realized what a colossal mistake I had made by falling asleep.  Normally people stay and help clean up.  Not this time - the place was a total wreck and there was no one here but me!!

The place reeked.  My ass was grass.  If some axe murderer didn't get me first, Glen might kill me instead.  If I didn't get this place cleaned up, I might as well start looking for another location.   But I was too weak to clean this huge place by myself
.   How would I ever get myself out of this mess?

After I finished locking the door, I went back to my couch to feel sorry for myself some more.  But I didn't sit there for long.  The music was still getting on my nerves.  I decided before I could sit down and rest a while, first I had to turn off that damn music. 

So I walked over to the Big Room which was about ten feet away.  The Big Room was a black sea of darkness.  Plus the door to the Big Room at the end of the Hallway was only half open.  That meant I couldn't see in.  As I approached I could not see a thing, so I slowed down.  I realized I didn't like entering a dark room.  

What if
someone was still in there?

I told myself I was frightened about nothing.  I forced myself to open the Hallway door.  The light switch was right next to the doorway, so I turned the lights on.  Ohmygosh, the pain to my eyes was terrible!   I quickly covered my eyes with my hands. 

Peeking out between my fingers, I was relieved to see the room was indeed empty of any monsters.   But this brief moment of relief soon passed the moment I realized the full extent of the garbage.  There were drinks everywhere, food on the floor, and dirty plates as far as the eye could see.  Several places on the floor that were sticky with spilled punch would need mopping.   Now that it was a one-man job, I guessed t
here was at least three hours of cleaning to do, maybe more.

Woozy from the booze, the thought of cleaning this place by myself was more than I could bear.  I felt sick and exhausted.  In my condition, three or four hours of cleaning was a tall order indeed.

Plus I still had to load those huge speakers and the other stereo equipment into my car so I could take it home.  In those days, I had to carry all music equipment from my house to the studio for any party since I was a sub-leaser.  There was no room to store it at Dance Arts plus it wouldn't be safe from theft.  Ordinarily my students helped me carry these heavy items back to the car at the end of the party, but tonight I would just have to carry the equipment by myself.   Add another burden to the list.

After I turned off the music, I turned the lights to Room One back off again.  I did it because I didn't want to see the trash anymore.  Maybe if I turned off the lights, the trash would disappear on its own.  Plus the darkness suited my mood just fine.  Paint it Black. 

I must have been sobering up a little because my conscience would not stop nagging me.  I reminded myself again that
Glen's dancers were scheduled for a rehearsal that morning.  There was simply no way I could put this off.  I had to get this place back in shape for them NOW or I was a dead man.  

But my pep talk didn't work.  My shattered state of mind was unable to respond to threats.  I sank back down on the couch.  In the state I was in, it was just too much for me.  It would be so easy for me to fall back asleep right now.  Unable to cope, I wanted to sink back into oblivion and pretend I was dreaming.  I wanted to sit in the dim light of the Hallway and wallow in my misery. 
As I lay there on the couch, I could not make myself get back up.  I was alone in this dark hallway all by myself.  I was worried sick with my dilemma.

I was nauseous, my head hurt, I was weak, and I was grouchy.  I was angry and depressed that I had hours and hours of work facing me after hours and hours of work the previous day.  I should be home in bed now dreaming sweet dreams of a party well done, but instead I had all this miserable trash to pick up.  I was also mad at myself for passing out.  Where was I going to get the strength? 

I was totally paralyzed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I AM NOT ALONE AFTER ALL

As I lay on my couch staring into the dark gloom, I heard a
strange moan. 

Woooooh...
 

I jumped up off that couch faster than you can say 'Frankenstein'.  

I was damn scared!!  What in the hell was that sound!!??  Where had it come from?   But no matter how hard I listened, the sound was not repeated.  I was unable to guess anything about it.


All I knew was the sound had come from my right.  Frantically
I peered down the hallway, but saw nothing. Horrified, I continued to stare into the semi-darkness.  I wondered what on earth I had heard. 

Now I didn't hear a thing.  Total silence.  I was sweating with fear.  Was this my imagination?  I swore to myself I had heard something.  Every hair on my body was standing on edge.  I got in touch with the meaning of the phrase 'spine-tingling terror'. 

I trembled with near panic.  I kept turning my head in every direction looking for some sign of movement.  Whatever that sound had been, it had been REALLY SCARY...

My mind raced through the possibilities.  Had someone from the party stayed behind?  Had a street person wandered in during the night?  Was it a burglar? 
Was someone sticking around to play a sick joke on me?  Or was this real danger?

For the second time that night, I thought I was in a scene from Halloween or Scream.  That is how scared I was. 

My imagination was running wild.  I was alone in the dark and someone had just moaned like a ghost in a haunted mansion.  It was House on Haunted Hill all over again.  Or was it Psycho?   This was not a dream.   Or was it?   Wake up, wake up!  In my shock, I was completely disoriented.   How much danger was I in?  What should I do?

FIGHT OR FLIGHT

It didn't feel like a dream; this felt all too real.  My instincts screamed there was real danger present.  I didn't like the sound of that moan at all.  It definitely felt 'human' in origin.  And there should not be anyone here at this hour of the night, of that I was certain.  I believed it was either a burglar robbing the studio or someone coming to play a trick on me.

My heart went thump thump thump.  What in the hell should I do?

For a moment I refused to move.  What if I were to walk right into danger?   But I couldn't stay here in the Hallway either.  This spot was way too exposed!

If it was indeed a criminal, I could be in very great danger.   But that didn't make any sense.  What kind of criminal announces his presence with a moan? 

I decided this was the not the time to stand here and figure it out.  I needed to do something.  

What if they didn't know I was here?


If I couldn't see who made the sound, then they probably couldn't see me either!  

Why not hide first and figure out what was going on before shouting out and revealing my position?  That made sense to me.

Whatever the sound was, it had come from my right.  The darkness of Room One ten feet to my left made it the obvious place to make my retreat.  I had briefly turned on the lights when I turned off the music, so I knew no one was in there.  I bolted out of my spot over to Room One.  I prayed whoever was in the building had not seen me yet.

I reflexively closed the Hallway door behind me.  Big mistake!  I was shocked to see Room One plunge into total darkness.  I was blind!!

If I were to do it over again, I would have simply retreated a few feet into the shadows of Room One and left the door open a bit so I could see down the dimly-lit Hallway. 

That way I would have been invisible to anyone entering the Hallway, but would have a vantage point to see if anyone was approaching. 

Maybe a hero is that clever in the movies, but not me.  I was so panic-stricken that this clever idea never crossed my mind.  I was definitely not thinking clearly.

Too late now.  The door was closed.  I definitely didn't want to compound my error and reopen the door just as someone entered the Hallway.   What if the door made a sound while I opened it?  The percentage move was to leave the door closed.

Since I could not see a thing, I slid my hands along the wall and moved to a corner of the room (see map above).  Ironically, this was the same corner I had been in for the Group Photo several lifetimes ago.

I was scared out of my wits.  I assumed that at any moment someone would come in the room and throw on the lights.  They would see me and I might be facing a knife, a gun or maybe even a monster. 

Any moment now, there was a real possibility I might be forced to fight for my life.   My poor heart was thumping wildly!!
 

TERROR

I had moved to the corner in panic.  My body was soaked in cold sweat brought on by my fear. 

By disappearing from the Hallway, I figured at least I had bought myself some time to think and regroup.  This was my only chance to try to get a grip on this bizarre situation.  There had to be someone here!   Nothing makes a sound like that but a human.  But I did not know why he was here or if he knew I was in the building. 

Now that I had a moment to think, that same question came back to me, 'Why would a burglar moan and warn me of his presence?'  

That thought kept racing through my mind and I kept coming up empty with answers.  I was completely baffled.  But in an odd way that question made me happy.  It became my only hope... bad guys don't usually moan before an attack

Who was in the building and why?  I kept racking my brain.  If I could just get an answer to that question!!

Meanwhile over in my corner I waited.  And waited.  And waited.   Where was the intruder?   Why didn't he come for me?

As I stood there shaking, I realized how pathetic my situation was.  For starters I was completely and utterly trapped.  Back in those days, the Hallway was the only way in and out of that room.  

I was completely blind.  By closing that door, I had plunged the room into complete darkness.  The room was devoid of any light at all.  If there was indeed an attacker, he had control over the entrance to the room and the light switch beside it.

Furthermore I did not even have the advantage of being hidden!  There was nowhere to hide in this huge empty room.  What was I supposed to do, stand behind the metal pole?  Would good would that do? 

Sooner or later someone was going to enter this room and see me standing over in the corner.  One flip of the light switch and I would be as exposed as a deer in headlights. 

I was blind. 
I was trapped.
I had no place to hide.
I had no way to escape.
I did not know the nature of my assailant.

This was the worst imaginable position to be in.  I was a sitting duck!!

Plus my confusion was driving me crazy.  I had no idea what was going on.  I thought of calling out to ask "Who is there?", but stopped.  Bad idea.  That would give away my position.  I clung to the hope my nemesis did not know I was there.  Better to be still and stay out of sight till I could figure out what was going on.   But in my anxiety, I was dying to call out!  I was having fits forcing myself to stay quiet.

I was also going crazy because I couldn't see!  This was the same darkness you would find in an underground cave.  It was pitch black in here!  I cursed the darkness!  What if someone were creeping up on me at this very moment?  Beads of sweat rolled down my face. This was the most terror I had ever felt in my life. 

Then
I heard the sound again for the second time.   Woooooh!

It was a barely audible moan coming from somewhere in the building. I was totally freaked out!!   Was the person in the Punch Room next to me?  What were they doing in there?  What in the hell was going on?  What was that sound?  Who was making it?  Why was there a 5-minute gap between sounds?

That second sound really put me over the edge because it proved that the first sound had not been my imagination.  I began to tremble badly.

Minutes ago I had been barely alive laying on the couch feeling sorry for myself, but now I was wide awake.  Fear does that sort of thing to you!  Adrenaline coursed through my veins. 

Think, Rick, think!  My mind was racing.  What was the most logical explanation? 

I wondered if this was a prank organized by someone who decided my drunken stupor was too good an opportunity to pass up.  That made more sense than some stupid burglar who announced his presence with a moan.  And I really didn't believe in ghosts either.  The supernatural was the least of my fears.  I was much more afraid of humans than the Headless Horseman or Dracula.

Had someone from the party returned to scare me and have some fun at my expense?  I discarded that idea.  That made no sense. For starters, that sound had to be made by someone already in the building.  After all, I had locked the front door 15 minutes ago...  No one could have just driven up and walked into the studio unless they had a key.

Had a key?  Hmm.  Well, that was a possibility I hadn't thought of.  Someone with a key.  Was it Glen playing an unbelievable trick on me?   Or someone on his staff?  

Had one of the dancers returned to find a missing pocketbook on her way home?  Actually I would have been okay with that scenario, but I doubted it.  No woman in her right mind would enter this building without turning on every light switch immediately.

Only people who had been at the party would know I was still in here, but they didn't have any keys. 

What could be another explanation for leaving the lights off?  I suppose someone on Glen's staff with a key might come in the building at 4 am for a romantic tryst with a partner.  That was the best explanation yet, but it didn't explain the two moans.  No one entering the building at 4 am was going to "moan" as they walked down the hall. 

My mind returned to the possibility it was a prank played by someone who had stuck around after the party.  Again I was skeptical.  My instincts said this was not a prank.  Why would anyone stick around for four hours after the party just to play a practical joke on me?  No one I knew had the patience to watch me sleep for four hours just for the chance to scare me to death.  How stupid was that?

While I waited, my mind kept coming back to the Big Question - Why would a predator moan twice and reveal its presence? 

I still had no answer for that riddle.  Why warn me?  Why put me on guard?  Why not simply attack me before I could make a defensive measure?  That did not make any sense.  My inability to find an explanation bothered me no end.

Worst of all, I was totally blind.  I couldn't think straight in this dark.  I was too afraid.  In my panicked state, I was completely unable to come up with even the slightest reasonable explanation for the two moans. 

My mind turned to thoughts of escape.  I realized now how much I hated the fact that I had locked the front door.  I could no longer make a run for it.  Even if I could get past the Hallway from Hell and run all the way to the front door, I would still have to waste time getting the key in the lock.  Surely in my haste I would fumble a little bit.  By the time my key opened the door, the predator would surely catch me from behind.  I would be trapped and that would be it for me.

There was a second exit at the farthest end of the building.  I would have to run all the way through the Hallway from Hell in the vicinity where the two moans had come from.  Then I would have to go through the scary storage area in the back of the building.  If anyone had been hiding all this time, that would be the place to do it.  I had no intention of testing that exit!

Most of all, I did not want to go down that Hallway.  The path to both exits would force me to cross the area where the sounds had come from.  I would be completely vulnerable in the Hallway.  This was deeply discouraging. 

I decided trying to escape was out of the question.  I was certain I had no chance to get to either exit without being caught first.  I was trapped.  This left me only one other choice. 

I had to prepare to fight back!

I began to debate whether to stay in my current corner spot or move.  

Surely whoever was here in the building had to have a good idea where I was.  And even if they didn't know I was there, it was only a matter of time till they came into the big room and flipped on the lights if for no other reason than to look around.  Then it would take two seconds to notice me cowering there.  

The only advantage this corner spot offered me was the chance to run to the other end of the room when the lights were turned on.  That wasn't much of an advantage, now was it?  This corner was useless.

Someone could enter the room at any time.  For that matter, there could be someone in the room right now.   Damn if I would stand still and get my head whacked off like Ichabod Crane!  I would rather take my chances with a fight. 

But I couldn't fight what I couldn't see!  

INTO THE HEART OF DARKNESS

As all these thoughts raced through my mind, I was having trouble coping with my blindness.  In my rush to hide, I had literally trapped myself in this realm of darkness.  When I say that Room One was 'dark', this is incorrect.  Room One wasn't 'dark', it was PITCH BLACK!   The darkness was wearing on my nerves and causing me incredible terror.  My heart pounded with fear. 

I was already sick enough with worry at the unidentified threat, but my blindness was allowing my paranoia to run rampant.  I was nearly scared to death with all the gruesome possibilities that crossed my mind's eye on a continuous loop.

As they say in the movies, the suspense was killing me!   My paranoia was stupefying.  For example, as I stood defenseless over in that corner, I was half-convinced something was creeping up me right now and I couldn't see it coming! 


Can you honestly say you have had any experience with blindness?   It can drive you insane.  I should know...

Over and over I cursed my stupidity for closing that door behind me.


Study the picture on the left.  That is the "Door to Room One". Those two ladies are standing next to the infamous door.  That brown door is what I closed when I raced from the Hallway into Room One.  When the door was closed, virtually no light from the Hallway could penetrate into Room One.  

Inside Room One there were no windows nor any Emergency Exit Sign.  The picture indicates how dark it is in Room One even with some lights on.  But now there were no lights on at all.  Like I said, in my initial frenzy to hide, I had closed that door behind me without even giving it a second thought.  That impulsive move meant Room One could not receive even a flicker of light from the distant coke machine in the Hallway.  There was not a single shred of light in this room.

My total blindness was infuriating!  Closing the door had been a natural move, but it was a bad mistake.  I was already scared out of my wits by the moan, but even that fear had been nothing compared to this maddening darkness.  I kept straining my eyes to see something, but it was no use.  That was the worst part - feeling so helpless.  The darkness was scaring me to death! 

The two moans had chilled me to my spine.  I was blind and I was convinced that someone was looking for me. 

I had questions but no answers.  What do you think?  Give me one good reason for two eerie moans at 4 am in the morning in this vast empty studio.

Why couldn't I see who was making the sounds?  Where were the sounds coming from?  Why were there only two moans?   Why didn't the moans continue?  Why did the sounds begin 20 minutes after I woke up?  Why were the moans spaced five minutes apart?

Adding to my paranoia was Halloween, the night when Evil Rules.  It was the spookiest night of the year!  Maybe there was more to the legends than I had ever imagined.

Under the circumstances I had every right to be afraid.  The darkness, my alcohol-induced daze, my worthless position, and the lack of any rational explanation for those horrible moans left me confused, disoriented and scared.

Worst of all, escape was impossible.  Sooner or later I would be forced to confront the source of those moans. 

Nowhere to run.
Nowhere to hide.
So much to fear.
Danger is near.
Because I am blind,
I am out of my mind.

I am trapped inside the Heart of Darkness.


TIME TO MAKE MY MOVE


Scared as I was, did I want to stand here in the dark and let them come and get me?  Or did I want to take control as best I could?  I certainly did not want to fight with the lights off. 

I couldn't stay in this corner any longer or else I would go insane.  I had to take action.  I was convinced that my next step had to be getting the lights back on. 

Without the use of my vision, my ears had begun to work overtime.  At least I could hear.  Thank goodness I had turned off the music.  I was certain there was no sound coming from either Room One or the Punch Room.  Whatever the threat was, I was fairly sure it had not yet entered Room One.  I would have heard the door open. No one could be that quiet. 

Furthermore why would anyone stand around waiting for me in the dark?  If someone came into this room, their first action would have been to automatically turn on the lights.  No one had done that. That made me certain I was alone.  I was ready to cross the floor to the light switch. 

It was time to play blind man's bluff.  I slid my feet slowly like a blind-folded kid at a birthday party.  My heart was pounding the whole time.  I kept my hands forward in case I ran into the metal pole in the center of the room. 


I cautiously inched my way across Room One from the corner towards the light switch (see map). 

At the halfway point, I froze.  Out of the void, three red dots suddenly appeared to stare at me.  They glowed in the dark like evil red eyes. 

What in the hell was this?  Had the Devil come to get me?

As I stood there, I realized those red eyes didn't move.  Furthermore they were more like dots or laser points than actual eyes. 

Then it dawned on me the "red eyes" were coming from the general direction of the music system.  Good grief, I was seeing the red lights on my amplifier.  I must have forgotten to turn it off.  I rolled my eyes.  I was so nervous that I was finding threats everywhere!

From this point on the amplifier lights became my friend.  I knew where in the room the music equipment was located.  Acting as a lighthouse in the dark, those tiny lights helped me orient my position in the room.  They allowed me to increase my pace across the floor.

As I slowly crept across the floor I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't crazy.  Nothing made any sense, but I had definitely not imagined those sounds.  Of that I was convinced.  But I still had no idea what the explanation was.  It was driving me crazy that I couldn't think of a single plausible scenario that was benign other than perhaps two lovers looking for a place to make out.  But why the moans?  Was I in the presence of danger or not? 

Wooooo!

I froze.  There it was again.  It was the third moan.  As before, the sound had come from somewhere down the Hallway from Hell.  Surely the bad guy had seen me duck into the dark Big Room.  He had to have seen me!   Was he coming for me right now?

Damn.  Here I was exposed out in the middle of the room.  I was nowhere near any wall.  If he came in now, I was a goner.  How was I supposed to hide in the middle of the dance floor?   I mean, if we were playing hide and seek, I was in real trouble. 

Fee Fi Fo Fum, I smell the blood of a dance instructor.  Come out, Come out, wherever you are.

Oh hell, what difference did it make where I was?  That is why I had left my corner to begin with.  What was the point of hiding if someone already had a pretty good idea where I was?  

After the newest moan, I fully expected someone to come bursting through that door.  I stood still awaiting my fate.  But nothing happened.  No more sounds, no movement in the hall. 

I shook my head in confusion.  Why couldn't I figure out what was going on?  And what do I do now?   No point in standing still any longer.  I located the dim red lights and started moving again.  As I made my way to the light switch, a new fear crossed my mind.  Surely the Evil One was in the hall right behind that door.  And that door was right beside the light switch.  That had to be where the trap was set.  I was sure of it.  Someone wanted me to turn on the light and then they would burst through the door and attack me.  Maybe so.  But what were my other choices?  Stand there and do nothing? 

So I kept going.   Sooner or later I would have to face the intruder. 

As I got closer to the light switch area, I discovered a dim sliver of light at the bottom of the doorway made by the Coke machine in the hall.  I assumed the door didn't go all the way down to the floor.  The sliver of light was just enough to let me know exactly where I was.  It was time for me to make my final move to the light switch which I estimated was five feet away. 

But I was afraid to take this last step.  I stopped and waited.  I was still convinced after that last moan that the monster had decided to wait right outside the door.  Maybe I could hear him breathing. I tried to hold my breath and listen.  All I could hear was my own heart beating furiously.  Could the monster hear my heart beat?  I had to breathe again.  I was upset that I could hear my own breathing.  I hated that my fear made me breathe so loudly.  I tried holding my breath some more.  No use.  My terror made it difficult to hold my breath.  The tension was almost more than I could bear.

With the hallway door shut and the room so dark, there was absolutely no way to guess what kind of danger I was in.  I hesitated moving to the light switch because I was still afraid someone was standing there.  Didn't it make sense for a bad guy to wait for me by that very light switch?  Someone could be standing less than five feet away and I would not have seen them.  He had to be somewhere in the building, but where?  

I continued to think it over.  If the monster wasn't next to the light switch, I still worried he was right outside the door waiting for me!  

These were all crazy irrational thoughts, but that is what blindness does to you.  It makes you stupid! 

I was alone in the dark.  Blindness makes you afraid of everything you cannot see.  It makes your brain try to predict every imaginable danger and ways to cope with it.  I felt unbelievably vulnerable.

If someone was standing there or nearby, I would never know until it was too late.  Oh, don't be silly.  Of course no one was there. But what if I was wrong?  Back and forth, back and forth.   I didn't want to make a fatal mistake.  I was paralyzed with indecision.

Finally I decided this was ridiculous.  Why would an attacker be so passive?  Personally, if I were looking for someone, I would have come in this room a long time ago and turned on the light switch.  I wasn't going to wait for someone in the dark at the light switch and neither would he.  Nor would I hide outside the door.  Get a grip.  It was time to move.
 
I screwed up my courage and made a desperate lunge for the light switch.  I bumped my head on a shelf, then fumbled around the wall till I found the switch and flicked the lights on.  Just like in the movies, I dropped to my knees in case there was some sort of blow from an attacker.  Then as the lights flickered on, I jumped back to my feet prepared to run like a bat out of hell if someone came crashing through that door and started chasing me. 

Nothing.  All that worry for Nothing.  All those ridiculous movie stunts for Nothing.  Nothing had happened to me.  I felt sheepish.

Laugh if you wish, but all the concerns I have listed should give you an indication just how worried I was.  Fortunately there were no Michael Myers knife slashes.  No robber with a gun.  No ghost to steal my soul.  No vampire to bite my neck.  No weirdo hopped up on cocaine.  No street person looking for a bathroom.  No ridiculous prankster.  No lovers writhing on a nearby couch.  Thanks to my blindness and my vivid imagination, I had just put myself through a ten-minute ordeal that was totally unnecessary.  It was all in my head.  But it had seemed very real at the time. 

Now I was relieved.  I immediately felt a whole lot braver just being able to see again.  My excruciating trip to the light switch had been the right move.  Now it was time to solve the mystery.

I was relieved to see a short metal pipe laying nearby on the floor.  I picked it up for security.  I waited for any kind of sound, but heard nothing.  Now it was time to open the Hallway door and have a look, but first I decided to turn the lights back off.   I didn't want anyone to see the lights on in Room One when I opened the door and give them a reason to come running after me.  I had an advantage now and wanted to keep it.  So I flipped the switch.  This time the darkness was my ally.

With a darkened Room One behind me, I opened the door just a crack and peeked into the long dark Hallway from Hell.  I could barely see a thing.  I could see the Coke machine.  I could see most of the couches.  But no people.  Nothing.  I stood there in the doorway and waited. 


I COME OUT OF HIDING

That lead pipe was my new best friend.  Against a knife or a gun it wouldn't have been much use, but I was beginning to doubt the intruder was armed.  Whatever was going on, the intruder in the building was behaving far too timidly.  If anyone was after me, they should have come in this room by now.  I was still pretty scared, but my curiosity was starting to get the better of me.  I wanted to make my stand.

So I decided to turn the lights in Room One on again, but this time with the door wide open.  I had a plan.  If someone came after me, at the last second I would flip the lights back off and surprise them with sudden darkness.  Then I would bop them in the head with my lead pipe.  That idea gave me the courage I needed. 

So I flipped on the switch and braced myself for a fight.  Whoever was in the building was certain to see me now.   I half-expected some crazy would come charging down the Hallway after me.  Nothing.   No problem.  I wasn't disappointed at all.  I really did not want to fight if I didn't have to.   

With the Room One lights on, now I could see almost to the other end of the Hallway.  Nothing.  Where was my nemesis? 

I had mixed emotions.  Of course I felt a lot more in control.  The light made all the difference in the world.  And maybe there was a bogeyman, but he sure wasn't being very aggressive. 

However things still didn't make any sense.  The mystery should have been solved by now.  Three groans meant someone had to be in the building.   Now turning on the lights announced my presence to the world.  If there was an intruder out there, why didn't they come after me when I turned on the lights or at least make noise when I surprised them?

The second possibility was a person who meant me no harm, but didn't know I was there.  However, if it was someone who meant no harm, why didn't they announce their presence when the lights came on?   

A third possibility occurred to me.  By turning on the lights, maybe I had surprised a burglar who was now afraid of being caught.   This was a deeply unpleasant thought.  But maybe he would try to escape rather than fight me. 

As I stood watching, there was still no one in sight.  I was definitely thrilled no one had attacked me, but I remained deeply puzzled.  Why were there no answers? Something fishy was going on, no doubt about it.  I wasn't about to let down my guard.  Nor was I going to say anything.  I hate it when they do that in the movies!

From my vantage point in Room One, I counted six closed doors and two open doors.  The Hallway from Hell was a very scary place because someone could jump out at me from several blind spots. 

I began to speculate that whoever was in the building was just as afraid of me as I was of them.  Maybe they were hiding from me.  Surely someone was behind one of those doors.  Or they could be behind the coke machine just waiting for me.  Up till just moments ago, I had been in hiding myself.  I now assume it was unlikely the other person had even known I was here.  Now maybe it was the intruder who was worried.  Let's say it was a teenager who broke in to smoke some dope or to look for something to steal. 

That scenario made some sense, but I had a problem with it.   What sort of burglar moans in the middle of their work?   Why would any thief groan and signal their presence? 

Or maybe it was two Bellaire teenagers looking for a place to make out.  Maybe those were moans of pleasure.  Not likely, but maybe.  Then out of nowhere I turn the lights on.  Now maybe the kids are the ones who are scared.  Maybe they were in the Waiting Room and took off down the hallway to the door.

As hard as I tried, I still could not come up with any explanation that made sense. My mind came back to the possibility that some insane prank was being pulled on me like the Headless Horseman tale.  Someone was deliberately moaning to scare me in the middle of the night.  Nonsense.  I didn't believe that answer either.  It had been thirty minutes since I first awoke from my drunken stupor.  If it was a joke, then the joke should have been over a long time ago.  The prankster would have come looking for me in Room One pealing with laughter.

As you can see, I was back to the same possibilities I had considered back when I was blind and cornered.  Now even with the lights on I still had no answers.

At least I felt better.  I guessed this mystery had been going on for twenty minutes now.  As puzzled as I was, the fact that no one had stepped forward gave me courage. 

Now what should I do?

I thought about escape again.  Bad idea.  No way I was going to run down that hallway.  Whoever was down that Hallway had to know my position.  I would never get past them without a fight.  Better to take it slowly.

I decided to start eliminating possibilities.  I would start with Room Two next.   This was the Punch Room.  This was a real possibility.  While I was standing in the corner, the second moan seemed to come from that room.  This could be it.  I really didn't want to go down that Hallway, but what choice did I have? 

Slowly I walked through the gloom of the Hallway past the couch where I had been sleeping.  As I approached the Punch Room, I saw the door was partly open and the room was dark. 

Was my attacker waiting in the darkness of that room?   This was a strong possibility.  After all, the sound had come from somewhere in this area.  Maybe someone was in this room.  But I had maintained silence.  Maybe they didn't know I was coming. 

Like an Indian, I snuck up as quietly as I could.  If there was someone in the building, this was a likely place for them to be. 

Fortunately the light switch was just inside the doorway.  It was easy to reach from the hall.  I gripped my pipe for all it was worth and raised it high ready to strike.  Then with my other hand I reached in and flicked on the switch.  Nothing.  I went limp with relief.   This was nerve-wracking.

I began to admire any policeman who enters a building after a silent burglar alarm has been tripped.  Sure they have guns drawn, but a bad guy can shoot first from a hiding spot.  I was gaining a real appreciation for the kind of guts it takes a cop to deliberately place himself into danger like this.  My nerves were shot. I didn't think I was cut out for police work.  I decided if I survived the night I would stick to dancing.

Now the Punch Room was lit up as well.  There was so much light in the Hallway from Hell that I was beginning to doubt there really was an attacker.  I began to feel kind of silly.  I had been so careful to be sure no one could sneak up me.  All that fear and nothing had materialized.

Had I imagined all of this?  No way.  My instincts reminded me I had definitely heard a moan three times.  One time maybe it was my imagination, but not two times and definitely not three times.  Nor was the air-conditioner on.  This place was totally silent.  There was still no explanation for those sounds.  Even as the light suggested there was no one here, I refused to let down my guard. 

I was convinced now that someone had to be hiding from me.  But I was beginning to doubt whoever it was could be dangerous.  The element of surprise was long gone.  For that matter, maybe the other person had already exited the building when they discovered I was there too.  A burglar doesn't necessarily want to get into a fight either.  That was what I was starting to believe... whoever it was, they were gone now.  I would never know what had happened.

Whatever the explanation, I was beginning to get a lot braver.  Nevertheless, until I had explored every nook and cranny of this vast building, I would continue to be wary.

There were still five doors and two other entrances to be examined.  Next I went to the main Hallway which led to the front door and Bissonnet Street.  Now I wished again I hadn't locked the front door.  It was too risky to go down the Front Door Hallway because it would expose my back to the dangerous Hallway from Hell.   But I did poke my head into the small Waiting Room located right off the Hall and flipped on the light.  Nothing. 

This mystery had to have an explanation.

Brandishing my pipe, I slowly moved further down the Hallway from Hell towards Room Three.  If someone were waiting to attack, this would be the perfect time to do it.  However I had the Punch Room at my back to retreat to.  I fantasized a circular chase around Room One with some monster at my heels.  Is there some way to turn off my over-active imagination?   

I walked to the far end of the Hallway and flipped on the hallway switch.  Again nothing happened.  I peered into Room 3.  Nothing in there either.  90% of the dance studio was now either lit or had enough light to know it was safe.  Five closed doors left.  One door led to the storage area.  That was the scariest door.  I preferred to save it for last.  One door led to the drink room, one door to the Men's Room, another door to the Ladies Room, and one door to Glen's office. 

With the Hallway from Hell completely illuminated, I could see no threat.
 Whoever was in the building had to either be gone or hiding behind a closed door.  Wherever they were, their best opportunities to attack were gone. 

I was starting to relax a little.  Perhaps the intruder was just as afraid of me as I was of him and had gone skedaddle.  I was curious to check the front door and the back exit door to see if either door had been tampered with, but that was still too risky.  Better to check the remaining closed doors first.

Now I began to wonder if the moan was some weird sound the air-conditioner made late at night.  Even when it was turned off, I had heard the AC rattle on and right back off again many times for absolutely no reason.  But tonight's sound was not mechanical.  I began to feel increasingly stupid.  I had never been so scared in my life and it was embarrassing to think it was all just my imagination.  No more drinking for me.  Still, my inner voice said it was not the air-conditioner and it was not my imagination.  So I kept looking.

Whatever the threat was, it was staying well hidden.  As I stood in the hallway, I scanned the five remaining closed doors.  Was it someone in Glen's office?   Hmm.  Why hadn't I thought of Glen's office before?   That was when a new non-scary possibility occurred to me.  There was a couch in his office.  Maybe two impassioned lovers had found their way in there and had passed out just like me.  Or maybe just one of the Zombies had stumbled in there to crash.  Why hadn't I thought of these possibilities before?

That made sense except for one thing - earlier in the evening I had checked that door.  It had definitely been locked. 

Then another idea occurred to me. Maybe one of the jazz dancers had a key.  Maybe she had brought a boyfriend with her and the two of them had ducked in there after the Jungle Frenzy dance.  Maybe they locked the door, had some fun, then passed out. 

Or maybe it was two of my own people who were in there.  Maybe they had gone in there BEFORE I had checked the lock and locked from the inside.  And maybe they didn't want me to know they were in there.  Maybe they didn't want to be embarrassed at being caught in there. 

Either way, it made sense that someone was in Glen's office with the door locked.  This had to be it.  This made more sense than anything I had come up with all night long. 

For the first time all night, a legitimate non-lethal explanation had finally crossed my mind. 

As I explored this possibility further, it dawned on me that maybe they were afraid of me!  Maybe they heard someone moving around in the hall and they were hiding from me just like I had been hiding from them. 

I didn't know whether I wanted to check Glen's office or simply ignore it.  There were some negative consequences attached to investigating Glen's office further.  But I was still concerned about my own security.  Why not leave the building and be safe in the parking lot?  The thought of discovering two naked lovers on Glen's couch or even a solitary individual was not my idea of fun.  Even worse, what if it was Glen himself? 

Then it occurred to me that I had still not said anything.  Turning on all these lights would have made no difference to someone passed out or hiding in Glen's office.  

What if whoever was in Glen's office had no idea I was in the studio?

Did I really want to go down this path?  How about knocking?  But I didn't want to announce my presence either.  I was still in stealth mode.  It could still be a bad guy inside that office.  If a bad guy was hiding in there, I would prefer not to confront him.  Anything I said would indicate I had him cornered.  A cornered animal is dangerous.  Why take a chance?  I was full of indecision.  So I just stood there staring at Glen's office door wondering what to do. 

I thought again about leaving the building.  Bad idea.  How was I supposed to leave the building but come back and clean up the trash?  I had no choice but to discover the source of the sound.  Maybe I should call the police before opening any more doors.  The thought of having the police come over and finding nothing shut down that idea. No, that probably wasn't necessary.  I didn't really believe any burglar was in Glen's office.  At that point, I had a new idea.  Why not put my ear against the door and try to hear something?  

I had just put my ear against Glen's door when
I heard the moan again.  Oooooooh!!!

Ohmygosh that scared me!  I jumped so high my head nearly touched the ceiling!  I even let out an involuntary little yelp.  Damn!  How crazy was this? 

When my wits returned, I realized the sound was very close by.  Much too close for comfort.  But it didn't come from Glen's office... the moan had
definitely come from the Ladies Restroom!

I had not checked the restroom yet.  The restroom was located right next to Glen's office.  It was less than five feet from where I was standing
.  I walked around the Coke machine to inspect the door to the Ladies Room. 

I was so scared I practiced swinging my metal pipe a couple times just to get the stroke Keep in mind I still had no idea what was going on and there was no one around to help me.  The front door was still locked, so running for my life was out of the question.  Maybe it was all a prank, but maybe it wasn't.  I could be in grave danger.  If I was in trouble, I had no escape route and no real weapon.  

However, successfully turning on four light switches had emboldened me.  I was certain I had located the source of the sound.  Whoever it was, they were trapped in the restroom.  Plus they probably didn't know I was out there.  I had surprise on my side plus my trusty lead pipe.  I bolstered my confidence by thinking I was in a stronger position than they were.  But that didn't keep me from being afraid.  I still had no idea what I was dealing with.

Carefully I walked to the door.  Holding my club tightly, I used my foot to nudge open the door. Then I jumped back and raised my club.  I was ready to smack whatever came crashing through that door, but it opened and closed without incident.

That's too weird.  Now what?  My heart was thumping madly.  I really did not want to go in there.  So I waited another moment.   Oooooooh!!!   There it was again.

Now that I was close by, the moan had a different feel to it.  It sounded like someone was in real pain!   Maybe someone was hurt!  This possibility had never occurred to me.  I had been much too worried about saving my own skin.

For the first time I broke my silence. "Is someone in there?"  Still no answer.  I waited for a moment.  I was going to have to go in there.  I had no idea what to expect.  Whoever was in there, at least they hadn't come out to attack me.  

Who was behind that closed door? 

One part of me half-expected a psycho with a knife to leap out at me, another part wondered if several SSQQ loonies were going to yell 'trick or treat!!' and start laughing at me hysterically. 

Finally I screwed up my courage.  I opened the door
and flipped on the light switch.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was the most ghastly sight I had ever seen in my life! 

I was shocked out of my wits!

 

Down on the restroom floor, a woman dressed in a red belly dance outfit was sprawled unconscious

Laying face down, her face and her entire costume were covered in vomit.

Even though the lights were on, she did not move at all.

 

 

 

THE VICTIM

I gasped and stared in disbelief.  This looked like a crime scene from CSI.  The woman's body was motionless.  Was she dead?  Face down on the floor, her arms and legs were set at such strange angles that I really wondered for a moment what I was seeing.

No, she couldn't be dead.  After all, she had spent the last hour scaring me out of my wits with her weird noises.    

That's when I grabbed my nose.  Ohmygosh the stench!  The woman had thrown up everywhere.  The restroom was covered with vomit.  Much worse, this poor woman was
covered head to toe with vomit!!   She must have rolled in the damn stuff.

This was horrible. It was so gruesome I wanted to throw up myself.

 

The Mystery was over.  Everything made sense now. 

This woman and I had something in common.  Obviously I was not the only person who had passed out.  This woman was another victim
of Bob's Wicked Wizard Punch.  

However it didn't take much to realize this woman's condition was far
worse than mine.  I was standing and she was unconscious.  The woman really did look dead.  I am not exaggerating.

The woman had thrown up everywhere.  She had to have suffered gut-wrenching agony before she passed out on the cold hard tile floor.  I couldn't imagine how much pain she had been in.  Plus her intermittent moaning meant that she must still be in misery even as she slept.

As I stood in the doorway with the harsh neon light illuminating every corner of the bathroom, the woman didn't even budge.  When I say 'passed out', she was completely and totally unconscious.  Nothing moved. 

My intense fear gave way to overwhelming sympathy.  This poor wretched  woman.  I didn't know who she was, but I did remember seeing her at the party. 

The stench brought me out of my musings.  Yuck!  Phew!

I moved my eyes around the restroom.  What a horrible mess!  This was so disgusting.  She hadn't made it to the toilet
.  Instead there was puke all over the floor.  Even worse, there was puke all over her belly dance dress.  Apparently at some point in the night she had rolled in the stuff because there was puke all over her costume.

It was caked on her mouth and face too.  The woman
lay there soaked in her own vomitThat was so horrible to see, much less smell.

How could she even breathe?   Can people suffocate from vomit?   I was worried this might be the case.

And the smell!!  Oh my goodness, yes, the smell.  Who could forget that?  Nothing has ever reeked like this before or since. The stench was so overwhelming I had to hold my nose just to remain in the restroom with her.

What exactly was I going to do?  I knew this helpless, unconscious woman was my responsibility.  I stood there in silence trying to decide on a course of action.  My first thought was to wonder if the woman needed medical attention.  So I pulled the vomit-soaked veils from her face.  She seemed to be alive.  Sort of.

So
I got some paper towels, wet them in the sink, and slowly began to wipe her face clean.  As I ran the wet paper towel across her face, she began to moan.  I jumped for the ceiling again.  This woman was way too creepy. 

A single thought raced through my mind again and again - 'I am too sick to be doing this'.  What on earth was I going to do with this poor woman?   And where was I going to get the strength to do it?

But I had to keep going.  I steeled myself to the task and resumed cleaning her face.  The whole time I was disgusted beyond belief.  I wondered, 'How do nurses stand doing stuff like this?' 

I decided if I ever survived the night, I wasn't going to become a nurse either.  Not a policeman, not a nurse.  Two totally thankless jobs.  But my fear of her suffocating to death kept me from quitting like I wanted to.  Accompanied by my new-found respect for nurses, I continued to clean that smelly puke off her face.  

Finally my nausea got too much for me to take.  I had to sit down for a moment.  I closed the restroom door and went to a nearby couch in the hallway.  I took stock of my situation.  Now that the mystery was solved, an overwhelming exhaustion had kicked in.  I doubted I had the strength to continue. This was a case of the sick tending to the sick.  I was just one notch better off than she was.  Heck, I needed someone to take care of me.  How was I ever going to take care of her and still clean the studio?  

That's when I heard the woman begin moaning again on the cold restroom floor.  She sounded awful.  I shook off my own misery and went back in the restroom to help the woman.

I had never seen this woman before tonight Who was she?  Where did she come from?

I took another look at that belly dance outfit.  Those clothes reeked beyond belief.  They had to go. 
I wished there was another woman around to get her out of those horrible outer garments and put her in a tee-shirt or something.  No such luck. 

I thought of an old Robert Mitchum movie called Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison.   Mitchum was a stranded soldier on a Pacific island during World World II.  He comes across an unconscious Nun during a heavy rain storm.  He drags her into his cave and decides to get her out of her soaked garments for her own safety.  It was an interesting scene that was pretty similar to my experience.

That might have been okay in the movies, but this was different. 
I had no business changing the clothes of a woman I didn't know even though it was for her own good.  But this probably wasn't life or death.  I decidedI had no choice but to let her remain in that horrible vomit-saturated belly dance costume.  Oh well.  I would have to wipe down her clothes as best I could and try not to soak her to death in the process.

Barely able to breathe from the smell, already sick from my own drunkenness, exhausted from my previous gut-wrenching fear, I experienced a level of misery I have never felt before or since.  I was disgusted.  More nausea swept over me.  Twice I had to suppress my own puke reflex.    I felt so much revulsion.  It was everything I could do not to throw up.  Puking on my own patient... now wouldn't that have been great?   Then it occurred to me she wouldn't have even known the difference.  I smiled grimly to myself... nothing like a good sick joke at 5 am in the morning.

But I had to attend to her.  What other choice did I have?   I took off her veil completely and cleaned up her face as best I could.  Then I wiped some more of the vomit off her clothes.  It had been on her so long it had dried and caked.  I could just peel it off barehanded.  Yuck.  I was gagging with disgust the whole time.  This was so awful.

The woman never moved the entire time I cleaned her.   Not one single time.  I rolled her from one side to the other a couple times and there was not even a facial twitch.  She was literally dead to the world.  There was one good sign though.  The moaning had stopped once her face was clean.

I guess at some level she knew someone was taking care of her.  After I finished, I decided she was going to be okay.  She seemed more relaxed and she was breathing normally now.  But I had to get her out of that restroom. 

I covered a nearby couch with newspapers. I tried to pick the woman up, but I was unsuccessful. She was a big woman and she was also completely limp.  I tried, but she was much too heavy to pick up in my arms.  She weighed a ton!   Finally I gave up. She was just too heavy for me in her condition and my condition.  So instead I grabbed her under her armpits and dragged her out to the hallway.  There was no way I was going to get her on that couch.  So I put a pillow under her head and let her lay there on the floor.  The woman never even stirred.  She was out cold.

 

As the woman slept on the hallway floor, I went back to the restroom and began to mop the floor.  Half an hour later I finished with the restroom.  The area stunk horribly, but there was no spray available.  Tough.  I told myself I had done the best I could.  I wondered how badly I was going to get chewed out by Glen for the smell.  I worried the smell had moved over into his office.  Heck, I had other things to worry about.  I had not even begun to clean up the studio.  When was this ordeal going to end?

Now I
turned my attention to cleaning up the general mess.  I picked up the trash.  I emptied the drinks.  I swept the floor. I mopped the sticky spots.  I carried twenty bags of trash by hand to the dumpster on the other side of the parking lot.  Carrying three bags at a time, the seven trips nearly killed me.  Actually I didn't carry the bags because they were too big.  So I dragged them.  Small holes would appear in the plastic bags as I drug the bags along the pavement.   little trickles of soft drink would pour out from these holes and create wet streams of red punch on the parking lot pavement.  By the time I was done, the path to the dumpster was well-marked with a big red streak.  I called it my "Red Carpet".

I used a lot of profanity.  Whistle while you work?  Drop dead.

The woman slept the whole time.  I passed her laying on the hallway floor every time I took more trash to the dumpster.  She was starting to snore.  I assumed this was another good sign.  It seemed like she was sleeping soundly.  There she was right in the middle of the Hallway from Hell.  As I worked, I often had to put my foot on either side of her face to get past her. I literally had to walk over her, but she never once moved!   That was one very passed-out woman, trust me.

Oddly, I was starting to appreciate her company.  We were old friends now.  At least I wasn't completely alone. 
I realized in a very strange way this woman had done me a bizarre favor - by scaring the heebie jeebies out of me, her presence had actually shocked me out of my own drunken stupor.

I guess this is what they mean by a "silver lining" in every dark cloud.  Maybe it is true the Lord works in mysterious ways.  I definitely had needed something to get me going again, that was for sure.

It took me three hours to finish cleaning the studio.  The sun was just beginning to rise at 7 am or so.  Now I began to load the audio equipment into my car.  I felt like hell.  I looked like hell.  And don't ask how I smelled.  I craved a bath.  I craved a bed.  But I still had responsibilities.

After filling my car, I went back inside.  I was surprised to discover the woman was finally stirring.  Good timing.  I couldn't leave until she left.  I'm sure Glen would just love to find her laying in the middle of his hallway blocking the door to his office. 

I prayed that
I was going to catch a break and she would be in good enough condition to drive home. 

As she lay on the floor, the woman's eyes fluttered opened.   She stared up at the ceiling in wonderment.   Then she raised her head and looked around in bewilderment.  Finally she sat up and noticed me.  She began to look at me warily.  I had been standing nearby, but now I came closer and sat down about 5 feet away.  I didn't want to sit too close and take the chance of scaring her.  In addition she still reeked pretty bad.  

I said "Good morning. How do you feel?"

She said nothing.  Obviously she was having a hard time figuring out where she was and what had happened.   Hmm.  Join the club.  I painfully recalled my own rude awakening.

Then her nose twitched.  She looked down at her clothes.  That's when
the woman began to figure things outHer nose practically twisted into a pretzel as she smelled the stench.  It was all beginning to come back to her.  Her eyes grew large with shock.  She had to be disgusted out of her wits, but I did not know how to spare her this embarrassment.  In spite of my own problems, I felt so sorry for her. 

I asked her again how she felt.  This time she spoke.  "Like death warmed over," she replied.  No surprise there. "Too much goddamn punch."   I smiled and nodded in agreement. 

As I talked to the lady, I found out why I didn't know who she was.  She said she didn't really know anyone at the studio.  She had taken a couple lessons at the studio and had seen a Halloween party poster on the wall.  This is how she learned about the party.  She added that she had come to the party alone on a city bus. 

I groaned to myself.  A bus?  I did not want to hear this.
 My shoulders sagged with this news.  I rolled my eyes.  Here I was ready to go home and collapse, but now I found out she didn't even have her own car.  Add another hour to my ordeal.  Would this nightmare ever end?

So I offered her a ride.  What else could I do?  Leave her at the bus stop in that condition and those clothes?  I don't think so.

So
I went outside, took the speakers from the front seat of my car and put them back in the studio.  I could pick them up later.  Then I helped the woman into my car.  The thought of her sitting on my seat in that outfit gave me the shivers.  One part of me wanted to ask her to sit on some newspapers, but I could not bring myself to be that callous.  I decided I could always clean the seat up later on.

We drove slowly to her apartment which was near the University of Houston.  Apparently she was a student there.  This surprised me a little because she appeared to be the same age as me - 31.  Maybe she was a teacher. We said very little since we were both sick and exhausted.  I also imagine she was embarrassed by her drunken collapse in the restroom.  

I recalled how angry I was at myself for passing out and giving people the chance to laugh at me as they left the building.  Did this woman have even a clue that a total stranger had been down on the floor cleaning her face and costume?  Talk about an invasion of body space.  If so, she didn't say anything.  I think she was just grateful to be alive.

It was a very long trip made longer because the smell was so horrible inside the car.  Her clothes were rank beyond belief. Despite the cold October wind outside, we had no choice but to roll the windows down and let the smell out.  Consequently we both shivered in misery as I drove.  Two complete strangers were trying to make the best of the situation, but it was awkward.

To get that sick meant she had done an awful lot of drinking.  During the trip, I tried to imagine the depths of loneliness that had contributed to this woman's unfortunate incident.  I decided it was none of my business to ask.   For one thing I was just one step in better shape than she was.  Hey, who was I to judge?  Besides, maybe she had no idea how dangerous the punch was until it was too late. 

Believe it or not, she couldn't even find her apartment.  She explained she had been in Houston two months.  She only knew the way home from riding the bus.  I groaned to myself.  I was too damn tired to have any patience, but I summoned my final ounce of civility.  I am glad I did.  I am sure if I barked at her she would have begun to cry.  She was right on the edge of tears as it was. 

I asked her if she knew where her bus stop was.  She said 'Wheeler Street'.  That did the trick.

We had to drive around her neighborhood until we found her bus stop.  Then
we found the apartment.  Although I offered to help her walk in, the lady said she was strong enough to make it to the door by herself.  I am sure it took every last ounce of strength in her body, but her pride carried her up the sidewalk.  Woozy, sick, wobbly and dazed, reeking and wearing her disgusting costume, slowly she staggered to her door.   What a sight.  That poor woman.

She waved goodbye with as much dignity as she could muster.   Once I was sure she had her door open, I waved back and nodded good luck to her.  She would need a lot of rest to recover from this.

I drove home very carefully even though the roads were still deserted on this early Sunday morning.  I was too tired to trust myself to drive fast.  If I passed out, I didn't want to hit anything hard.  It was 8:30 am when I hit my bed.  I am sure you would rather not know this, but I didn't bother taking a shower.  I had no choice but to collapse.  This had been the longest night of my life. 

I had survived the Halloween Party from Hell, but just barely.


FINAL THOUGHTS

HOW MUCH DID THE WOMAN KNOW?

Over the years, people have asked me several questions about the woman who passed out.  Mostly they wondered what went through her mind after she finally woke up and how she had managed to get so sick in the first place.

I honestly don't remember much because our conversation was extremely limited.  My main concern was to allow the woman to regain a little dignity.  Consequently I thought it best not not to pry.  Since she didn't volunteer much, I have no details to share on how she got into that mess in the first place, what time she entered the restroom, or what crossed her mind when she awoke.

I do know the woman had no idea about my own ordeal that night because she never asked any questions.  She never had any idea how badly her sounds had frightened me.  She was just trying to survive and I didn't see any point in filling her in on the gory details.  I do remember wondering if she was curious why I just happened to be waiting for her at the studio on a Sunday morning at 7 am.  I guess she figured it was a service we provide for all our comatose guests. 

I never saw this woman again.  I am sure she was too embarrassed to bother coming back to the studio.   I have no idea what her name was.  I don't even think she told me.  It doesn't matter.  I can assure you I will never forget her.

 

WHY DIDN'T I EVER GUESS WHAT WAS REALLY GOING ON?

I will start by asking you a question... when did you first guess another person might have passed out as well might be the answer to my confusion?   How soon in the story did it cross your mind? 

I am telling the truth when I say I was clueless right to the bitter end.  I never once suspected the true meaning of the sound until the moment I opened the restroom door.  Right up to the moment I turned on the restroom lights, I was still worried there might be an attacker hiding somewhere in the building.

That said, I remain baffled that the possibility that someone was sick or hurt never once crossed my mind.  I was so convinced that someone was after me that my fear-driven mind never once offered up this solution.

When I went back in 2007 to update this story, as I was typing I asked myself over and over again why it never occurred to me that the sounds I heard might have been caused by someone who was sick or hurt.  

My only excuse was that my incredible fear impaired my thinking process.   You know, squirrels are famous for changing direction with no warning.   When I see a squirrel crossing the street, I slow down.  The squirrel panics and runs away to the side of the road.   So I pick up speed again thinking the squirrel is safe only to see the squirrel change its mind and run right back in front of my car.  Now I have to hit my breaks again.

This is a perfect example of how fear makes us do stupid things.   You assume that humans are smarter than squirrels.  Yes, of course, but if we get scared enough, we can be stupid too.  Humans are not immune to panic.   This was a night when I panicked.

 

WAS I REALLY SCARED OR DID I JUST MAKE THAT UP TO IMPROVE THE STORY?

Yes, my fear was real.  No, I did not exaggerate.  This was the night that I experienced the most terror that I have ever felt in my life.

In my defense, it took several unusual factors to trick me into thinking I was in great danger.

  •  First, please understand that no one before and no one since has ever passed out at the studio.  In fact, I never even encountered something like this in college either.  I think we can assume this was a once-in-a-lifetime event.  This was such a bizarre situation that the idea would not have readily occurred to me.
     
  •  Second, since the woman was hidden from sight behind a closed door, I could not see her and the door kept her sounds muffled as well.

    The woman may have been making painful sounds all night long, but they were drowned out by the loud music playing in the room next to me.  When I finally awoke, I was pretty disoriented.  It took me a good ten minutes to even get off that couch and lock the front door.  I was preparing to lay back down on the couch when I decided the music irritated me so much I had to turn it off to get any peace.

    The silence allowed me to hear her moan for the first time.  She had probably been moaning all night long.  But the timing of the moan led me to incorrectly assume someone had just entered the building to come get me.
     
  •  Third, the fact that it was Halloween Night played a huge part in my fear.  Had the sound occurred on any other night of the year, I still would have been scared, but certainly not to that extent.  I admit I overreacted partly due to a lifetime of associating Halloween Night with danger and fear. 
     
  •  Fourth, there was my extreme sense of vulnerability.   I was already spooked out of my wits by having the door unlocked for several hours while I was passed out.  Before the moan even occurred, I had just spent ten minutes on the couch feeling like I was in a scene from a Scream movie. 

    As I sat there on the couch, I was already worried that someone was in the building.  In other words, I was not in the bravest frame of mind to begin with. Since I was in a semi-panic condition when I heard the unexpected moan, the sound hit me at the worst possible moment.   It was a really bizarre noise to hear at that hour and I overreacted.  I was hardly in any kind of mood to just sit there and calmly speculate what it might be.  I just wanted to hide!!
     
  •  Fifth, probably the major factor in my dilemma was my panicked decision to run and hide.  That made things so much worse. 

    Human beings have instincts we are barely aware of until they kick in.  When danger is present, our instincts tell us to act fast and ask questions later.  The fact that the woman was out of sight played havoc with my reaction because it was so much easier to retreat rather than to face the source of that unknown threat. 

    That is EXACTLY what happened to me. 
    The fear of the unknown is very powerful.  I was too scared to think straight. 

    The thought that came to me first was "I can't see him so he can't see me. Why not hide and figure out what I am dealing with before I make my stand?"

    I won't lie.  I was terribly scared and confused by the moaning sound.  The darkness of Room One just a few feet away was the perfect place to retreat until I could figure things out.  Hiding in Room One certainly felt like an improvement over sitting on a couch where anyone could see me and attack.  But once I was stuck in Room One with my blind condition, I experienced the most terror that I have ever felt in my life. 
     
  •  Sixth, shutting that door tight in Room One and being too afraid to immediately reopen it was a colossal mistake. That was dumb.

    Hindsight is 20-20, but if I could have stayed hidden right behind the door and simply peered out into the Hallway from Hell while I got my nerves settled, I think I would have solved the mystery fairly quickly. 

    Instead I made my situation much worse.  The blindness was terrifying.  It was my bad luck that closing the Room One door behind me sent the room into pitch-black darkness.  That didn't occur to me until it was too late.  The resulting blindness combined with a threat of unknown origin affected me in ways I cannot completely explain.  All I can say is that you have to accept the blindness magnified my fear so greatly that it took quite an effort to finally regain my courage.



PERCEPTION IS REALITY

There really is something to "Perception".   People can react differently to the same situation depending on what kind of mood they are in.

Back when I was in college, the Night of the Living Dead was said to be the scariest movie of all time.  But I went to see it on campus with a bunch of smart-ass college kids.  These kids were laughing before the movie even started.  Then they made fun of the movie from the opening credits on.  Needless to say, I wasn't even remotely scared.  The evening was a complete waste of time.

Four years later I went to see The Exorcist. The theater was full of people who were screaming bloody murder from start to finish.  Caught up in their mood, I have never been so terrified by a movie in my entire life. 

After one woman read my story, she asked me to describe how afraid I was.  Did I really think I was in danger or did I just say that to make the story better?

I can definitely see her point.  Since everyone knows I survived the Halloween from Hell experience, it may be difficult to understand my point of view and accept that I genuinely thought I was in danger.  On that night given the context of what had taken place, the fear that I experienced was very real to me.  I was absolutely terrified!

Although my fears turned out to be baseless, the fear I have described in my story was not even slightly exaggerated. For a significant period of time I honestly believed I was in terrible danger.  Trust me when I say I am not exaggerating.

 

DID I LEARN MY LESSON?

That was indeed  the most fear I have ever experienced in my life.  Ever since, I have always made a point of locking the door WELL BEFORE our guests leave to avoid letting any suspicious late-comers have access to the party.  That same policy goes for our modern-day Haunted House as well.

In a sense, that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  I learned many lessons that night, but one lesson in particular sticks out.  Now
you know why I no longer drink at my own parties.  Thanks to the Halloween Party from Hell, I have discovered I prefer to stay conscious and alert at my parties.  For one thing, it sure makes cleaning up easier at the end of the night.

I learned to be more responsible as well.   That was the very last Halloween Party where I had the attitude that I was a guest, not a host.  Once I accepted my role as host for good, not surprisingly the SSQQ Halloween Parties began to run much better.  Thank goodness.  

 

EPILOGUE - WHAT ABOUT BOB?

In 2007 I wrote the updated version of the Halloween From Hell story.  After one of my students read it, they asked me if I was still mad at Bob.  I looked at the lady in surprise.  I answered, "Heavens no, I was never mad at Bob.  Whatever I wrote, I was never upset."

Yes, Bob made a mistake that night, but he didn't intentionally make the punch stronger.  He learned a lesson too.  He did the Halloween Punch for several more years without further incident.

I was no angel either.  If I had not been drinking, I would not have let the party get out of control the way it did.  We were just a couple of young and foolish guys who were trying to create fun and have a little fun in the process.  It was a learning experience for both of us. 

Other than nearly having a nervous breakdown while I stood helpless in the dark, no one got hurt.  Even that poor woman in bathroom managed to crack a couple weak smiles as I drove her home. 

Like I said, Bob went on to serve his Punch again at several more parties.  Now that we had both learned our lessons, the problem was never repeated.

Today Bob is retired.  He lives up in the Colorado mountains near Fort Collins with his beautiful wife Louise (whom he met at SSQQ).   And yes, Bob has read my story.  Let me add he tells me he likes my story a lot.  He says he reads it every Halloween to get him in the right mood.  That's funny because I like to read it every Halloween too.  This is a night I don't ever want to forget.

To read more about my adventures with Bob Job,
, click here

 

   
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