Michelle and her friends gawked at the large house. The porch had enormous pillars. As they pulled up, Michelle remembered being inside another time. "The maid, Lenora Pennington, will probably answer the door. Let me talk, please, Dad," she requested. They got out of the car. "She'll let us in faster since we're Rachel's friends."
Danny smiled. "That makes sense. As long as I can come in, too."
Just then, a pizza delivery car pulled into the drive. Stephanie got out of the
car, and it left. Mandy quickly recognized her. "Stephanie, do you deliver pizza?"
Stephanie shook her head. "No. I just waited till they were done with a delivery near here."
"So, if you hadn't gotten here in thirty minutes or less," Cassie wondered, "would Michelle get another sister for free?" They laughed as they walked up to the Tilly home.
Michelle knocked at the door. A lady wearing a gray suit answered it. She wore a large apron and held a feather duster. "Miss Pennington, I'm Michelle. This is Cassie and Mandy. We're friends from Mrs. Yoshida's class." The maid seemed to recognize the names. "This is my dad, Danny Tanner, and my sister Stephanie. They wanted to come in for a minute, too."
"Oh, come on in," Lenora Pennington told them. She looked at Michelle. "Michelle Tanner? You're the nice girl who gave Miss Rachel your penguin job, aren't you," she spoke sweetly. "You must be such a wonderful little lady." Danny beamed.
Michelle raised her eyebrows. Had Rachel said that about her? Did she say nice things about people when away from them? Had she been wrong about her all this time? "Y-yes," came the startled voice. "Did Rachel mention me?"
Lenora laughed. "Are you kidding? Miss Rachel doesn't talk like that. Miss Sidney, on the other hand, comes over here a lot. And, she has mentioned you."
Michelle asked if Rachel was home.
"Yes, dear. I didn't know she was expecting so many playmates. Then again, she did talk about this club." She led them toward the basement.
"That's what we're concerned about," Danny remarked as he gazed around in awe. "Miss Pennington, I am so impressed at how clean this home is. Anyway, I don't know if you heard my phone call about a half hour ago."
"I was running the vacuum for a while. So, I wouldn't have heard the phone. Messages are the Tilly's business," Lenora said. "I don't listen to their personal stuff."
Michelle's dad related what he'd learned. He said he'd called Sue's parents, as well. They were on their way over to the Tillys.
Michelle and her friends reached the large basement rec room. They found nobody there. "Where could they have gone," Lenora wondered. She hollered. "Miss Rachel! Miss Rachel, your friends are here!"
The sitter walked up to them. Michelle recognized the oversized pink bow. She also thought the girl was walking funny. Was this what Stephanie looked for yesterday?
Danny and Stephanie noticed the same thing. "Young lady, you are drunk," Danny told Sue.
"I haven't been drinking. I've been breathing," Sue said. Her speech was quite slurred.
"That doesn't matter. You are doing serious damage to yourself. Plus, you are not fit to watch a child right now." Danny suggested that the housekeeper call Mrs. Tilly. "She may be busy, but you need to tell her what happened. She needs to come home right away." The maid and sitter left.
"She's a Flamingo, all right," Stephanie remarked. "I've seen her at their lunch table. And they even shy away from her sometimes."
"She must be bad news. What was that about breathing," Michelle inquired.
"She means..." Danny froze. He suddenly looked alarmed. "Everyone split up, we have to find Rachel and Lewis. I'll explain later." He dashed upstairs.
Michelle wasn't sure why her dad sounded so urgent. She said a short prayer anyway as she ran into the laundry room. She discovered Rachel and Lewis hiding beside the washer. "I found them," she hollered.
"Michelle, what are you doing here," shouted Rachel. She looked upset. But, her voice contained a mixture of scolding and relief.
How would Michelle explain this? She glanced at the aerosol cans in the center of the room. "I was going to say your sitter's drunk," came the puzzled voice. "But, all I see are spray cans."
Stephanie ran into the room next. "Oh, thank goodness you're all right. Let me smell your breaths," she commanded them.
Lewis exhaled right away. "We didn't breathe anything."
"Breathe anything?" Michelle turned to Stephanie. "I thought you were worried about drinking."
Cassie and Mandy ran into the room. Stephanie shot Michelle a look. "I'll explain in a minute." She then stared at Rachel. "Rachel, did you inhale anything out of any of those cans?"
"No, of course not," Rachel said defensively.
Lewis told them Sue had. "Then her words got all runny. After that, the maid said you were here. Rachel wanted us to hide."
Danny ran into the room. "Good, you two are safe. Sue's parents are here for her. The maid's talking to them. They're taking her to the hospital, just in case. As well as treatment for her problem. I said we'd stay with you for a couple minutes till your mom came home."
"My mom?" Rachel glared nervously from Danny to Michelle. "How dare you call her? She's got a very busy schedule. She's in charge of a very important fashion show Saturday. You didn't have to make her mad by having her come back here."
Danny spoke quietly but very sternly. "You're lucky she's not coming to take you to the hospital, young lady."
Michelle turned to Cassie and Mandy. "I bet that sounded like her mom." They nodded.
Danny continued. "Inhaling anything from household products can take all the oxygen out of your lungs. It could easily suffocate you. You could have died within minutes, Rachel."
Michelle's mouth dropped open. She had no idea anything could be that dangerous.
"I never inhaled any of that," Rachel said. Rachel was trying hard not to sound scared. But, she was clearly very frightened.
Stephanie took Rachel's hands. She spoke softly. "Rachel, it's okay. As long as you didn't do it. If it wasn't for my older sister D.J., I would have stolen Dad's phone card to join the Flamingoes one year. I thought it was just a joke. Just like you thought what Sue was doing was a joke. But they planned to use it so one girl could call her boyfriend thousands of miles away. It would have cost Dad lots of money."
A lump formed in Michelle's throat. What if they hadn't gotten there? She couldn't stand to think of Rachel being hurt or dying. No wonder Stephanie had been so scared the previous day.
"Just because someone says something's harmless doesn't mean it is," scolded Mr. Tanner.
Mrs. Tilly came running down to the basement moments later. The lady wore a big, fancy hat with a rose in it. "Oh, Rachel! Lenora told me on the phone about the sitter." She hugged Rachel. "She said Sue was drunk or something. Did she do anything to you? Are you all right?"
Danny spoke before Rachel could. "She was trying to pressure Rachel to join this club called the Flamingoes. It appears they were going to breathe in some dangerous things as an initiation of sorts. But, it seems Rachel didn't do it. I don't smell anything on her breath. I don't see any other signs, either."
Mrs. Tilly smiled proudly at Rachel. "Oh, Rachel, we knew you could refuse that stuff. I guess you must have heard our voices saying ‘no,' huh?" Michelle thought Rachel's mom sounded a little too prideful herself.
Rachel mumbled something. Nobody could quite make out what it was.
Michelle asked what she'd said.
Rachel glared at her. She shouted this time. "I said it was your voice, okay!"
Michelle was stunned. "Mine?"
Rachel grumbled. "Yes, yours. Sue started sniffing that stuff," Rachel said. "She made it sound cool. I thought it couldn't be that bad if it came from our house. But, I couldn't do it. I kept hearing you telling me ‘no.' It's bad enough I have to hear you at school. Now that little voice telling me to stay away from bad stuff is going to sound like you, too!"
Mrs. Tilly shook a finger at Rachel. "You better be thankful that voice is there. I could be visiting you in the emergency room, young lady!"
Stephanie smiled. "Don't worry, Rachel. That ‘little voice' will sound like you pretty fast. Just remember to obey it when it says to stay away."
"Yeah, so what if it's mine," Michelle kidded her. "At least it's not Barney's voice." She knew Rachel really disliked the big, purple dinosaur. All but Rachel chuckled.
Michelle listened as Danny praised Lewis for saying "no" as well. She decided the next thing that needed done was to inform Rachel's mother about the real Flamingoes. "Steph, you need to tell Mrs. Tilly the truth about the Flamingoes."
Stephanie nodded. She explained all about Sue, Lewis, and the bottle. "I'd love to tell you everything the Flamingoes have done. But, my friends are waiting for me at Anthony's Pizza."
That sounded like a great idea. Michelle could start her club, too. "Let's all go there, Dad. Why don't you bring Rachel, too, Mrs. Tilly."
"I think that's a good idea," Mrs. Tilly remarked, glancing at Rachel. "I'd like to know about these ‘Flamingoes.' And then, we are going to need to talk about many things, young lady." Rachel looked uncomfortable.
Michelle told everyone they would have the first meeting of their club at Anthony's. "And you don't have to do anything to join. You can even be in it, Rachel."
"Yeah, sure," Rachel chided her. "And what do you call your ‘club,' anyway?"
Michelle laughed as she thought of a name. "The ‘Say No to Flamingoes' Club."
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