Chapter Six: The Road to Hell Via Money Spent

Feeling like a boss Tori made only a mere three phone calls to arrange for the warehouse to be rented in her name for one month. She wanted to buy the place to be able to totally renovate it so that the teenagers from the trailer park could have a community center to enjoy, but her allowance was not enough to cover such a cost at the moment. Tori was well aware that she could overdraw her account but was fearful that Mr. Peeters would pull the allowance completely if she went too far out of line so early in their dealings. No, Tori would have to do this very quietly and mostly on her own. She did not even bother to tell Molly that she had rented the place, rather Tori opted to have the keys sent to her from the owner in order to minimize her being recognized regarding the matter. Within the week the place was her's for thirty days and twenty-nine nights, pending she renew her monthly lease that is.


When the keys came in the mail, she immediately went to the old half fallen-over doors of the structure and let herself inside. It was in need of a good wipedown to be sure, but for the most part, it was an indoor structure that she and her friends could occupy during the summer without concern of being arrested or otherwise hassled. Tori took the broom from her own trailer and swept out the main floor before she blocked off the rickety stairway to the offices above. Tori might not have known all of the by-laws that a renter must follow, but she did know that an unsafe building could be a lawsuit if her friends got hurt there, something she dreaded would incur the wrath of Mr. Peeters when she contemplated it. Overall the bathrooms didn't work because Tori didn't want the paper trail of a plumbing bill and there was no power to the place, not that teenagers in the summertime cared.


For their next date, Tori suggested to Molly that couples go to the warehouse because she found out that the doors were "unlocked." Molly asked her if she was worried that they could get arrested for trespassing, to which Tori replied that she had never once seen a cop patrol there, an overt lie on her part. Molly though took the bait and said she'd tell Rocky. That next Saturday night when the air was cooled down from the heat of the day, Jesse, Molly Tori, and Rocky all assembled in the warehouse. The girls laughed as they sat together to watch the boys do skate tricks. Molly and Tori sipped at some Black Velvet that Molly had stolen from her dad. Tori planned to send him a faked promotional coupon, with a real gift card to him out of guilt for it. Molly's father was about to get a cashback rewards card from the Bank of New Mexico he was unaware he was eligible for. Tori chuckled at the idea to herself as Molly blasted music on Rocky's radio. This was a good thing to do with the money, Tori thought to herself as she looked around. Everyone was happy, including herself. There was a point when her mother died that she refused to mentally acknowledge except in the farthest reaches of her mind that she would never be happy again. That some people had a run in life that included happiness and that she was never going to be one of them. Tori felt contentment there that night like it was going to be okay like she was going to be okay.


The week passed by without issue as Tori paid debts and managed her tiny secret world. Mr. Peeters had not raised the alarm when she rented the warehouse in her name and the police would not come out to the warehouse no matter the odd hours or loud music that they kept. Molly had gotten a part-time job at a fast-food drive-through. Tori pretend that she made money off of selling blood at the hospital and bought Mr. Ronny's old truck. Tori didn't think of her explanation for her presently acquired funding as too far out of the realm of the truth, as she was drained by an old man and people with a needle to get it. There was a sense of entitlement that had crept into Tori's thinking that did not exist before when she lived with her mother. This "I want more" way of thinking. She had never had this prior to going to Sweden, now it was appearing in her most routine of actions. She went from wanting to get a job with Molly to wanting to go to college. From wanting to be able to pay the bills at the trailer to owning a condo. These little changes were now who Tori was, she just wasn't sure if it was an improvement to her as a person or a blight.


When the weekend came up again Rocky brought a few more people he knew and a couple of them brought a few of their friends as well. All in all, there were less than a dozen extra bodies in the warehouse. Tori was not opposed to sharing the space for a party. This time around the party went on for a little bit longer and the music was a little bit louder. No one seemed to mind though, Tori included. Molly no longer needed to bring her father's Black Velvet because alcohol had manifested on its own in the space somehow. Coors Lite and Miller cans were passed around freely. The group danced together and the skateboarders had enough room to do their moves. Tori even saw some of her old acquaintances from school there, not that they recognized her. She was no longer the same gangly child they once knew. She had an air of confidence to her, despite her old clothes on her back and her trailer being less than a block away. They chatted about school and the summertime social scene. Tori managed to stay there the whole time and locked the place by about lunch the next day after the last of the party-goers had left. Tori was proud of herself for maintaining her anonymity as the actual tenant of the building. Mr. Peeters might have been a cruel example, but he was also a person she respected as an information source.


Tori had been so busy during the following week that she hadn't gone back to the warehouse to check on the mess left there for a few days time. When she did, she found that the backdoor had been broken into and that stragglers had been squatting there. Tori hadn't the heart to turn them out, at least one of them was a teen she knew to have been thrown out of his abusive parent's home. Trying to remain on the down-low as a secret benefactor, while also being a decent human being she asked Molly to help her load the old sofa from her trailer into Mr. Ronny's old truck to drive over to the warehouse. Molly agreed and the displaced teens had a piece of furniture to rest on rather than the cold floor. Tori liked this as a solution. She found from what little interaction that she had with her father to see that the after had lost all empathy if he ever had any at all. Tori didn't want her allowance to become the first step toward losing her humanity as she had seen in her father's eyes when he smirked at her arm being held out to drain its vessels for himself. He had no guilt, no mercy, no concern for others. She shuttered to think of her becoming such a monster. She reasoned the road to becoming like him was a slippery slope that she would push against as long as she had the capacity to.


Not long after the Fourth of July Tori had all but given up on being the last to leave the party on the weekends, and resigned to allowing the squatters and stragglers to stay on as they so pleased. Tori assumed that if things got out of hand that she would then have to give up her identity as the legal renter of the place and call the police, something she was hesitant to do. Her weekday routine was to try to study for placement tests and fill out paperwork for the community college on the other side of town. On Friday and Saturday nights she would stop in at the warehouse for her dates with Jesse, whom she was quite fond of by this point. They would tuck into a corner of the warehouse just to cuddle up together for hours on end. Tori did not ever bring him back to her trailer, that was her sacred place that she kept to herself. She had even gone as far as to swear Molly to secrecy about her living alone. Molly as far as she knew had complied with her promise. On one particular night, Tori found that the party was not only loud but that those attending were a different sort of crowd. The skater kids off from their summer jobs were now replaced with hardened gangbangers who were much older than she expected. Tori could not make time for Jesse because there was a brawl that turned into a group fistfight, before long. Although it wasn't Tori, someone had called the police. The sound of the sirens sent the crowd in all directions. Tori not knowing what to do fled too.


In the morning Tori received a call from an officer informing her that her property was being officially warned about the squatters and that she was to be legally compelled to prevent the venue from being used as an underaged drinking sanctuary or risk facing the courts. This scared Tori out of her love for her warehouse hideaway for herself and her friends. Realizing that the party was over, Tori called the landlord to tell them she was tendering her thirty days notice. She also called the police back on her own accord to tell them that she had been unaware of the parties, but to please break them up in the future. She wasn't sure if that had been a good or bad idea as a course of action, but she didn't want to have to call Mr. Kenton in New York to tell him all of the details involved in her screwup of decision making that stemmed from her trying to use the allowances for both her own entertainment and the wayward teen population of New Mexico without consulting anyone first. Feeling like she had handled the fiasco like a responsible adult, she put the matter behind her and thought it best to not be seen there anymore. Instead, she met with Jesse at the go-cart track and had a proper date. They closed out the evening in the back of Mr. Ronny's old truck in the desert. The warehouse was the last thing on Tori's mind as she curled up in her own bed just after two AM.


She had fallen into a deep slumber when the call that came from the police headquarters front office was left on her answering machine. She was hardly awake when she heard what brought her the shock of her life. The message indicated that she was formally requested at the police station for questioning regarding a murder that had taken place on her property. Tori was floored and reached for the phone, it was time to confess all her errors in judgment in hopes that Mr. Kenton could get her out of this one. She had to leave a message on his machine. As she seat in horror waiting for him to call her back, Molly came in and told Tori all about what had happened the night before. She said that the party started as usual but with more gangbangers this time. The warehouse had more people than it ever had before and more drugs. By the time Molly was heading out, there was a fight that started. Only this time no one ran away when the police showed up. Apparently, it took half of the small town's police force to clear the place out, when it had been done and the place was empty a gangbanger with a knife in his belly was dead on the ground. Hearing this Tori could only double over and cry, confusing Molly who had no idea of the personal implication Tori had with this incident.