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Project Vice; more than just good, clean fun

Project Vice; more than just good, clean fun
By Stephen Webster
Investigative Reporter
August 15, 2006

They call it “Project Vice” – more of an idea than a place. Based on “Project Hollywood” from Neil Strauss’ legendary pickup artist guidebook “The Game”, the party moves from place to place, and only a select few know about it. The modus operandi: drugs, sex, and more drugs.

Yes, crimes were committed. And yes, minors were involved, even instigating the activity at times. But as far as this writer is concerned, it was just a series of strange and unfortunate events. The names have been changed, but it is all true; every last word. I bought the ticket, took the ride, and bear a warning to any parent of any high school student anywhere near Lewisville, Texas.

It started late one Friday night, and ran a savage burn straight through the following Monday morning. A friend had just moved in to a new apartment, the location of which will not be identified. I came by to see the new place, drink a few beers, and possibly play video games; a typical weekend evening in 20-something suburbia. Then, a knock on the door. The “hookup,” as they cheered, had arrived. This, I had not expected.

I looked up to see a tall, scantily clad, younger girl sauntering through the door. We’ll call her Mindy.

“[Expletive], girl,” said Cliff, one of the only “responsible” adults present and, at that point, just an acquaintance of mine. “Why you coming in here all dressed down and [expletive] like that? Shaking that thing like you think we don’t like it.”

Mindy is 16. She attends Flower Mound High School. She is friends with Joe, the underage drug dealer. And if one were to believe the constant affirmations of Cliff, the other 20-something and paying resident of said apartment, underage kids are not allowed. But Mindy knows the spot, so exceptions to the “rule” were made.

“Shut up, Cliff,” she protested. “You’re crazy.”

He shook his head. “You can’t come in here without giving me a kiss on the cheek girl. You know that. You want in, you gotta pay the toll.” He leaned out over the side of his couch and she planted one on him.

“Now, tell me what I want to hear,” he said slyly. “Tell me you got the hookup.”

She nodded and pulled out a cell phone. “I’ve got to call him first,” she said as the call was placed. “How much did you guys want again?”

They were in search of two substances: psilocybin mushrooms and heroine-based ecstasy. Neither were much of a stretch for this girl, who by her own words knows “every [expletive] drug dealer in this [expletive] town.” Needless to say, she was quite popular among her peers, who call her for a variety of black market substances. Oddly, she refuses to smoke pot, or anything for that matter. Afraid of ruining her singing voice, she said; but not in any way skittish about chewing up three ecstasy pills in 10 seconds flat.

Several minutes later, another guest had appeared. This was Joe, a 17 year old former Lewisville High School student who dropped out years prior. He fancies himself a hustler, and tries his best to talk and act like one, yet he is constantly humiliated by those more experienced with his sordid trade. One Project Vice initiate described a scene from the night prior in which he had been run out of the room after smelling some particularly rancid cologne. It wasn’t really cologne, and everyone was still laughing about it. But that was quickly forgotten. He brought the drugs.

Joe strutted through the door holding a brown paper bag above his head.

“That’s right, [expletives]!” he yelled. “I got them [expletives] on Lock Down! I run this town! Them little Flower Mound kids just call me up and pay whatever I tell them to. Yeah! Alright, who’s buying?”

This kid - this lanky, sandy-haired, freckled little punk – had pulled out his wallet and was counting money right in the middle of the apartment. He tossed the paper sack down on the counter and nearly a dozen black and gold topped mushrooms spilled out. Someone yelled “Potato chips!” and within seconds the crowd had huddled around the pile, divvying up how much each planned on eating.

In his other pocket, Joe had a bag with nearly 20 heroine-based ecstasy pills. They run $15 apiece, and nearly half were snatched up then and there. Once the dollars had changed hands and the drugs were consumed, Joe left, citing a “deal” he had going with “another band of high school [expletives] out in Highland Village.”

Nearly an hour later, I was looking at an entirely different scene. Project Vice had sprung to life.

The place looked like a night club. Once the black lights came on, the walls lit up with previously invisible graffiti. Every inch of the apartment was covered in yellow and pink writing, various artwork, drug references, video game iconography, and more “XX was here” markings than one could count. Generic techno music blew my hair back, and a cornucopia of red, green and blue lights danced across the ceiling. Nearly everyone had elaborate highlighter art all over their arms and faces. Under the black light, they looked like monsters, angels, demons and terrifying, glowing apparitions.

By this time, nearly 20 people – mostly the “friends of friends” types – had filled the apartment. Some were dancing, others were making out in the kitchen, or a closet, or wherever they could find space. Everyone was hallucinating. Everyone, except me.

Taking a survey of the situation, I started noticing that many of these kids were just that: kids. There were probably only two or three Project Lewisville partiers over 20. Realizing this over about a half hour, I became very uneasy. “Paranoid,” as they called me. I did not want to be there a second longer, not that anything but morbid curiosity had kept me in place this long. I skipped out the door for a cigarette, the most harmful of drugs I venture near.

On my way out I grabbed Vice, as he’s asked to be identified in this story, and told him to follow me. Vice was my one actual friend in the middle of this madness. He was the one person I had known for more than six months. And now, he was the Godfather of this small-but-growing group of pubescent party monsters. It all happened quite suddenly. I was surprised, and not pleased. This was a side of him I did not know.

We waddled down the stairs out to the parking lot. He had eaten the shrooms as well, and was preparing to down two tabs of ecstasy before I got to him. The question was simple: “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” I almost punched him. He knows better. Or so I thought.

He could only laugh. He laughed so hard he doubled over, trying to catch his breath. He laughed and laughed until tears streamed down his face. This went on for nearly five minutes. Finally, he looked up at me with a sincere expression plastered across his face.

“Listen Vice,” I began. “I know you think you’re having fun, getting stoned and partying and everything, but these are kids, man. You are over 21. Don’t you realize what you’re getting into? This Project Vice is going to land you in a world of pain. And it won’t just be the drugs.”

He glared right at me, his mouth slightly ajar. He blinked a couple times, shook his head back and forth and finally retorted, “Hey! Circles!”

He was tripping circles. Circles everywhere: on my face, in the sky, and covering the trees. My friend had retreated into what he could only describe as Candy Land and Elf World. “Nintendo vision, man!” Talking some sense into him was hopeless, at least for the next eight to 12 hours. I wanted to go back, shoot off an air-horn, slap some sense into these teeny-bopper druggies. But I’m not a cop, and I’m nobody’s parent. I gave up, went home, and after some convincing, finally allowed myself to sleep.

I did not return for two nights. When I finally did make my way back into the first den of Project Vice, nearly half Friday’s partygoers were still there. It had devolved into a destructive cycle of various underage kids taking drugs and having sex, then passing out for several hours, only to wake up and do it again. People were coming and going as they wished, and the door was not locked. All of this, I thought, was a recipe for turning a really bad situation into something much worse: an outright disaster.

The scene had turned rancid. No longer the blaring techno music, there were vomit stains on the carpet, articles of clothing strewn about, and nearly a quarter-inch of disgusting, sticky liquid coating the kitchen tile. Parts of the large living room table were lightly dusted with a thin layer of cocaine. Fast food and trash littered every surface, sticking up between a veritable forest of 40 ounce beer bottles. I walked to the bathroom and interrupted two kids necking in the bathtub. They didn’t mind, and even invited me in to “get twacked,” or in the common vernacular, smoke ice - speed - methamphetamine. Vice claimed that meth is not allowed through the door, and even chased off a couple meth-heads the night prior. He must have missed this couple. Or simply broken the rule.

From what I am told, next week Project Vice will be somewhere new and different, but still within Lewisville. It has found several prospective suitors, and is starting to take on a life of its own. One cannot be sure how many people will attend, or even if it will happen at all. The only knowledge of this suburbanite phenomenon I can impart is that these are your kids, doing things that you will never have any idea of. And if you do not get to know them, talk to them, educate them, and point them in the right direction, a life will end in a terrifying, downward, hallucinogenic spiral, either by overdose, violence, or something far worse.

One dares not imagine the many potential outcomes of this roulette. But be certain of this much: those who spent their last weekend at Project Lewisville will come back, and they will tell their friends. And before you know it, you will be spending some late Friday night scouring their bedroom walls with a black light, searching for that invisible writing, praying it is not a harbinger of darkened futures and lessons best not learned at all.

They are your kids. Do you care enough to know them?

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