Vicki's summer vacation takes several surreal turns—at
the beach in Fort Lauderdale, a country club fitness center, a
contentious family reunion, and especially a bombshell exposé by
(and of) her sister Tricia.
“You are not going back
to the beach tonight, young lady!”
“I wasn’t planning to, Daddy! It’s raining
(Still, if the rain should tail off…)
Which it didn’t till next morning, at the same
time and in the same way as before: after Vicki’d pulled on the
mulberry maillot, grabbed a towel, strolled past the Los Vistazo pool
deck and down the drive to cross the street... and set Gidget
Goes to Florida back in motion. Again her flipflops touched the
sand; again this caused the rain to stop and clouds to part and sun to
shine through; again an invisible director cried lights! camera!
action! and the throng of beach party extras sprang up with a
gladsome shout. Again Vicki was encircled by her Studly Trio, for a
second day of fun and frolic and funnel cakes, chase-and-catch between
pelican fly-bys and warily sipped beer—till five o’clock struck and
the rain resumed its descent, washing away A Whale of a Time Part
Fiona Weller spends her summer vacation in the
Punkamonium that is '77 on the Sunset Strip—with sidetracks into
Jazz Age starlet-harlotry, and arrival at the "L" Station that has
—since this was breakneck, a plunge
into the jungle, as abrupt and precipitous as the doomed plane’s to
the island in Lord of the Flies—
—and here came a stormburst of shredded riffs
and stompdown chords to engulf the mob and pound it with pulsing
throbbing thunderbolts, galvanize it into savage tribal chants that
celebrated darkness and lightning, without and
BEAST!! BURN YOUR THROAT!!
BOIL YOUR BLOOD!!
—so no choice but to dance and no room to do
so except by jumping up and down, as if at a demented trampoline
convention (pig’s head on a pogo stick!) yet space enough for
you to be swept off your feet and knocked to the floor, fearing you’d
be bouncily flattened—
—but a dozen hands promptly reached to haul
you upright. Only one belonged to Rerun (who stuck so close by your
side you could feel the metallic nibble of her safety pins) and one
each to Tawdry Meadows and Shudder Bugge (who honed in on you
unerringly through the Whisky crush) but the others belonged to
stranger-neighbors, unknown friends; and when they too took tumbles,
you in turn reached and helped with their uprighting. It
might be a savage mob, yet not a brutal one; no biting, no mauling, no
tearing with teeth or claws. However...
Laurie Harrison (everybody's favorite blabberyap)
spends a rainy summer day watching her entire life unreel before her
...so hitch the sarong-towel more
snugly under your armpits and trudge upstairs, remembering the “Tropic
Island Cruise” costumes at last May’s Cicada Dance, and how
Kim Zimmer’s had fallen off when she’d tried to hang herself
afterward. Now there was talk that the Zimmers had separated and left
Vanderlund, neither parent wanting custody of poor Kim, which in spite
of all the mean things she’d said and done to you was a terrible thing
—but nowhere near one-hundredth as bad as
entering your own personal private bedroom wearing just a couple of
wet towels to find your own little sister making out with Patrick
Baxter while both were stretched out on Susie’s mattress WITH
NOTHING ON ABOVE EITHER ONE’S WAIST—
Laurie let out a scream that set the Clevinger
sheepdogs to barking and Susie to saying “Can’t you knock
first?” and Patrick to going “All riiiight!” at the sight of
so much Laurie in so little covering, for which topless Susie slapped
his face just hard enough to leave no doubt that no ménage à
trois would be taking place here or anywhere, now or ever...
Their bunch fragmented by unfeeling schedulers, Vicki
& Co. face the First Day at venerable Vanderlund Township High
School—where they are joined by a standout dash of color.
“We’re going to have so much fun!
This is going to be the time of our lives!”
And other axioms to similar effect. Leave it
to Alex to associate so much fun with going to
school—especially the First Day at a new (Joss would say old, old)
The Big Green Limousine, mercifully on time,
trundled into view; as did a figure racing up the sidewalk alongside
it. This enlarged to a cobalt skimmer containing a young black female
who clearly wasn’t cut out for cross country. “Running like a girl,”
as an epithet, might be hotly resentable; but seemed apt for the
ladylike flaps and flails propelling this latecomer and threatening to
lose one or both of her shoes, if not the satchel jangling dangerously
from its shoulderstrap.
devil with a blue dress blue dress
devil with a blue dress on
echoed in Vicki’s brain for no good reason, as she raised
a hand in what she hoped would be taken as reassuring
Vicki, somewhat against her will, joins the JV
volleyball team and attracts attention from both a fast-talking
madcap and a vengeful identity-confuser.
(we now rejoin this program already in
Hands up to block the incoming torpedo… no
longer in flight. Hands taken and squeezed by teammates on either
side… of a really weird perspective.
Are you lying (or is it laying?) on the floor?
With Coach Celeste pressing a chilly something to your nose? If it’s
smelling salts, it’s (or is it they’re?) not doing its/their job:
your nose feels completely stifled. And the wrong size. And the
wrong shape. And so hot it authenticates you as a Broil. And IN
—Marcia-Marcia-Marcia “Oh my nose!!” PAIN—
—that’s in no way lessened by Celeste saying
“Tell me your name.”
—OhmyGahd don’t you know me? Did I trip
and stumble into the Twilight Zone?...
Vicki and Laurie each have to deal with
impairments of their capabilities, on and off the volleyball
court and at the hands of Dennis Desmond; while Fiona seeks
professional (mercenary) retribution.
Vicki instinctively executed an
upright reverse dig-and-roll, overturning her popcorn tub and
Filbert’s root beer as she wound up at arm’s length but with its
end still clamped snakelike around her wrist as Dennis flung the
driver’s door open:
“Thou owest the worm no silk, the
beast no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume! Off, off
your lendings! Come unbutton here! Naked as jaybirds shall we
dance the night away, and not go to bed till noon!”
Springing backwards into the deluge,
he was promptly engulfed: fair hair turning sodden green in the
murky neon, face bone-white in a fresh FLASH of fulguration, wide
bright Joker-teeth all a-slaver...
Vicki's presence is requested by three different
girls on three consecutive afternoons, for
For a minute they sat
listening to the familiar lickety-click of public transit in
motion. Then, just loudly enough to be heard, Is said: “When I
was little, Mauly’d tell me the noise a train makes is really
chains being dragged by the ghosts of everyone who’d ever ridden
it—and are still riding it, there beside us. Not friendly ghosts
like Casper, but zombie vampires that crawl inside your head
through your mouth and nostrils and earholes, to suck your
brains out while you sleep.”
“,,,well, y’know, big sisters,,,”
“Then she’d hide under my bed and make
sucking sounds. Night after night. ‘Cause I’d scream every
Vernonique Smith unburdens herself of a story
(in G Minor) about what she'd gone through before coming to
Vanderlund, and what she was up against now.as a New (Black)
Girl in the 'Burb.
So Nonique finished that
First Day of New School feeling miserable, and ever more so
during her solitary walk “home” from the bus stop—solitary as
in the only brownskinned person visible on the length and
breadth of Kessell Road. True, no Caucasian accosted her
by word or glance; but all the other really fine places along
both sides of that lilywhite street sounded the same
challenges as the Rented House’s interior:
Who are you? What do you
think you’re doing here? State your business.
Show some ID. Servant’s entrance is through the REAR
door. No excuse for failure to wear a maid’s
uniform. How long before you turn tail and go the hell
back where you came from?...
and her fellow sophomores contend with the drive to
revive Vanderlund's semi-sorority literary
societies, while Laurie Harrison faces an
intervention and Gigi Pyle contemplates a controlled
antique looking-glass such as Alice might’ve gone through
is removed from the wall.
No combination safe behind it, but a small white
envelope tucked inside the frame.
Jive lays out its contents on the flattened
mirror and wields a razor blade while your heartbeat
reverberates faster and faster and you take hold of your
wet skirt so as not to reach for Britt’s hand like a
scared baby but she leans over like she does at school to
let you know “(Your troubles’ll melt like lemondrops,
‘cause you’ll be away above the chimneytops...)”
O'Toole, Vanderlund's notorious teen girl mob boss,
seeks a way to tap into a rival's illicit
finds an unexpected means of doing so.
falcon-eyes raked the Sister Dopesters like talons
feinting at a pair of sparrows.
I am a predator, they were reminded. You two
could be prey at any time, any day.
Nothing personal—strictly business.
Be aware of that.
with no further word or glance, a Very Dangerous
Person took her leave...
Spirit Week culminates in a Homecoming parade, game,
and dance, as well as Vicki's reunion with an unlit
old flame: much of which is observed from
the peculiar POV of Spacyjane Groh.
“I can’t find Tony,” she gulped.
“I don’t think he’s here and he didn’t call
before I left so maybe he’s just late but what if he isn’t
coming like he didn’t to the track meet last spring but at
least then he had the decency to say so and tell
me ‘cause it really is getting stood up if he
didn’t even bother to do that ‘cept I don’t feel ‘stood
up’ (gulp) I feel knocked flat like at that dumb
old volleyball match I didn’t even want to play in and why does this
keep happening to me again and again, Space?
It’s not fair, it really truly isn’t…”
negotiates her way through unwelcome revelations and
romantic complications (her
own and other people's)
while Latter-Day Laurie, on behalf of Bunty
O'Toole's crew, infiltrates the snowbound Traverser
weirdo is obviously a teen witch, and not named
Sabrina either. Instead
of a platinum bubble cut her hair is lank and stringy,
and in place of a broomstick she clasps an ornate
leatherbound book (obviously of sorceress
incantations) whose occult gravity has shriveled her
down to skin and bones.
This is Linda (spelled L‑Y‑N‑N‑D‑H‑A) who
takes it upon her rigid dogmatic self to present you
to her companion guru.
appears to be a homeless young hobo given charitable
shelter and cleanish dryish clothes, though he could
do with a shampoo and shave and twelve-step program. (He’s
devoidly absorbed in an unseeable movie on the
projection room’s blank screen...)