I’m about seventeen years old, in the summer of 2003 between my junior and senior year of High School. It was a humid weeknight and my friends and I are driving down the Boulevard after eating french fries and boneless hot wings at a diner. We’re on our way to find Byberry. I have a purple Motorola phone and I’m checking the time – it’s before midnight.
We turn down Byberry road, because this will take us there. Driving past street signs, we’re a little lost and there is a group of people hanging out on a playground with their bikes. We drive up to them with the passenger-side window down and ask if they know where Byberry is, but all they did was throw a water balloon at our car. I burst into laughter as my friend hangs out the window pointing at them, making dangerous threats. We drive away and turn down Carter road.
Just ahead of us, I see the Boulevard so we turn around at some scary buildings. We are all screaming in horror at the sight of a man dragging a suitcase up a sidewalk and quickly turn the car around speeding off down the road again.
We park the car on the side of the road and decide to walk through a baseball field, because that’s what someone told my friend to do. We get out of the car, without any possessions, and start walking toward the woods and turn to walk through some tall grass. It’s drizzling rain.
Unexpectedly, I step down about a foot off a curb onto a concrete road, but there is no on-coming traffic and it’s very dark. Crickets chirp and mosquitoes buzz in circles around my ear, “Ouch!” I’m being eaten alive.
Large, tall plants are growing through the cracks and the tall grass we walked through forms a wall surrounding the road and it feels like a maze. Dark street lamps hover above us and are scattered throughout a field. We wander around and everyone is complaining, “It’s getting late,“ "It’s hot,” “It’s humid,” “It’s going to rain.” We worry about ticks, but I don’t want to leave.
It’s pouring rain. My friend takes one of his over-sized shirts off and hands it to me. I cover my head with it and walk into plants, “This is a lost-cause.” I put it on. It’s large and I’m swimming in it. So, here I am, poking through tall brush and grass in a large, white tee-shirt on an abandoned road somewhere near Byberry …and it’s pouring rain. My hair is soaking wet and I’m dancing around pretending to be a ghost.
Woah-we found a building. It’s an ominous building: It has two ramps and a loading dock-I think we found Byberry. I’m feeling scared and apprehensive about going inside it and the rest of my friends are somewhere behind me, so I call out into the darkness.
Standing a few yards from the building, we watch it as if we’re observing an oil-painting. I hear footsteps and turn around, “There you are!” I scream. I hear a cough, “Did you hear that?” I ask, but no one did. I dare someone to go inside the open door and my friend walks toward the building, up the ramp, and looks inside.
There are so many thoughts in my head right now. Are there really homeless people and drug addicts living in there like I’ve been told? Do they all have their own room and use candles at night? Do they get along with each other and how do they stay warm in the winter? What if they attack one of us? What will we do? I heard a story once about a homeless drug addict who stabbed my friend’s brother’s friend with a needle…
My friend turns around and walks back to us, proclaiming it’s too dark.
We stand around and discuss the building… we’re going to leave. I’m disappointed no one wants to return. I vow to come back.