Vicki in Vanderlund cover



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From edging into her New Girl teens in 1975 to graduating from junior high in 1977, follow Vicki Volester through her second volume of hide-and-seek between nurturing support and interfering bafflement.

18—Split Level

The Volesters move into their new suburban house, where Vicki—assigned a less-than-ideal bedroom, and feeling the loss of best friend Stephanie—speculates about the girl-her-own-age who may have occupied that room before her.
    Here, at least, were a great many girls (and boys) Vicki’s age. Probably a lot of her future classmates, potential schoolfriends, even a conceivable sweetheart or two—milling about, fooling around, yelling up at the sky and its pyrotechnic marvels.
    Out here in the actual palpable open at Maine Street Beach, they didn’t seem so intimidating. Young teens were young teens, whether City or suburban.
    The problem was that Vicki remained a stranger to them all.
    She was in EXILE...

19—The Bridge of Green

Going out for her first jog through Vanderlund, Vicki gets lost in Twilight Zone-y surroundings and ends up on an isolated country road, where she is found by a girl with an interesting face.
    Who to ask now? What to do next? Even if a car miraculously appeared, would she dare try flagging it down? Suppose its driver offered her a lift, only to abduct and subject her to hideous sex crimes? Oh Gahd! Should she hide in the bushes? Conceal the rank desperation streaming out of every pore, reducing her to depths of misery unplumbed since that day Goofus had toddled out of the greystone and off down the alley?
    Oh, wouldn’t HE be ecstatic to see her like this, a quivering blithering puddle of crud—“Hey, lookit what the Kitten dragged HERSELF in!” Just the sort of humiliation Goof was prone to spot and shout about.
    But Vicki would grant him a full pardon if he did so now...

20—Latter-Day Women

Vicki gets acquainted with new best friend Joss Murrisch and her family in a wonderful old Queen Anne domicile—some of them present, some passed away, and one invisible.
    A little girl materialized in the doorway. She held one arm out sideways, as though suspended from marionette strings, and had an inscrutable look on her solemn little face.
    “What?” Joss demanded.
    “What what?”
    “Don’t start with me, I am not in the mood. Go freak out Meg, I already got her all warmed up for you.”
    Owlish little eyes swiveled Vickiwards. Then back to Joss, who heaved a martyred sigh.
    “Vicki, this is Beth.”
    “And…” Beth prompted.
    (Deeper, more dolorous sigh.) “And our other sister. Invisible Amy.”
    “Um, hi,” Vicki told Beth and her outstretched arm...

21—Locker Combination

Vicki and Joss start eighth grade at Vanderlund Junior High ("VW, Home of the Beetles") and survive a first day vastly different from previously schoolyears at Reulbach Elementary, amidst an entirely new group of classmates.
    “Would you cool it, Robin?” Joss requested. “She doesn’t sell Hondas.”
    “Let her speak for herself!”
    Vicki reacted as an I’m-a-City-girl-you-can’t-intimidate-me should. “Oh shut up! We sell plenty of American cars—used ones. My mom even bought herself a Pontiac.”
    “Well okay then,” Robin subsided. “Don’t mind me,” she added with a pickle-chippy grin. “I’m a drummer, y’know. We all fly off the handle—lookit Keith Moon.”
    “Robin’s a great drummer,” Joss told Vicki. “Last year in Band—”
    “—don’t say it—”
    “—we called her ‘Melody,’ ‘cause she—”
    “—don’t say it—”
    “—reminded everybody of the airheaddrummerinJosieandthePussycats!—”
    “I’ll get you for that, Murrisch!...”


Vicki joins VW's brand-new girls cross country team, some of whose "Ladybugs" join her lunch-bunch and become close friends—despite wide-ranging differences in personality.
By now everyone’s particular strengths and weaknesses were fairly well documented, and the latter addressed. Lisa pushed herself too fast too soon; Susan had problems kicking it up in the home stretch; Laurie could run like a jackrabbit, sometimes, but got discouraged too easily; Vicki was overconscious of her Klumsy Klutzer past, and kept reliving it with stumbles. Alex tied herself into unnecessary knots; Rhonda believed a pastime like running shouldn’t be “practiced into the ground, honey!”; Susie couldn’t understand why her future potential didn’t translate into immediate results; Caroline and Karen Lee sometimes (okay: often) seemed interested only in compelling each other to eat her dust. Mumbles, while unfailingly well-disposed, could make even a “GREAT JOB!!” or “NICE PACE!!” painful to hear; and Sheila-Q habitually swore she’d never been told anything she didn’t want to listen to in the first place...

23—Cossack Holiday

Vicki is asked to keep tabs on teammate Alex Dmitria, whose radiant hyperactivity can no longer mask her underlying hangups.
    They found Alex in a spartan bedroom, not at all like Joss’s aerie or Vicki’s cozy corner. One wall was dominated by a truly spooky poster of a masked hockey goalie—The City’s own Mr. Zero, signed by his own bold hand; but still.
    Alex, in a tightly-knotted kimono, was staring not at this prize possession but out a window, with an I’M-UNJUSTLY-GROUNDED! posture and attitude. Clutched in her arms was a Chihuahua who yipped at the visitors with a JESUS-SAVE-ME! tenor and expression.
    “Vicki! Ohmygosh!” cried Alex. “I am soooo sorry about this morning, you would not believe the silliness I’ve gone through today, all I can say is it wasn’t my fault, my PARENTS overreacted and jumped to all kinds of conclusions when really I was perfectly fine, but they went and made me ruin my perfect attendance record for NO reason...”

24—A Beetle at VW

In the first of a series of novella-length chapters, Vicki gradually finds herself having her first serious relationship with a boy: that expert on the Spirit of Perverseness, Roger Mustardman.
    Just how much advantage of this sealed deal would Roger take? Did he assume she’d be a pushover, an easy-sleazy? Well, if so he didn’t know Victoria Lorraine Volester. She might let him kiss her—might even kiss him back, if she had to—but either way her hands would be on his chest the whole time, ready to fend him off. NO—on his shoulders, not his chest; hands-on-chests were not permissible. This would going to be an academic relationship. Except that kissing was involved. But no different than to thank a guy for asking you out, buying you a burger, taking you to a movie. Or in this case, boosting your chances of a better Science grade.
    Only that and nothing more.
    Vicki wondered if Roger would ever ask her out for burgers or a movie.
    And how’d she ever keep that quiet, if he did and she said yes?
    And what in the world would she WEAR?...

25—Whistle Against the Din

Presents the backstory of muttersome protopunk Fiona Weller, and the events-so-far of VICKI IN VANDERLUND from Fiona's point of view.
Stereo off, radio off; listening to internal music that took the place of food and drink and sleep. Afternoon passed, dinnertime too (plate to napkin to toilet), evening night and dawn. Feet no longer connecting to carpets or sidewalks or stairs, but gliding like a pair of origami moths that might fly her aloft to a paper hereafter:
How many more days
must I cross off the page
till my body catches up
to the rest of starvation?

(such a diet you should try it)
(such a diet you should try it)
(such a diet you should...)


The rise of the Rosa Dartles, an all-girl rock band formed by Vicki's friends, with herself drafted as their manager.
    They had finished a mega-tempo version of “Venture Nothing” (Vicki’s birthday acrostic song) and were taking a substance-enhanced break. Vicki stuck to Mountain Dew, saying: “Somebody’s gotta keep a clear head here—guess it’ll have to be me.”
    “Well after all you ARE our manager,” tra-la’d Sheila-Q.
    “If you book us that Back-to-School gig, that is,” Robin put in.
    “You knoooow,” drawled Britt, winding a long burgundy tress around a lank finger, “if you seriously want to get gigs in junior high, you can’t call yourselves Dopesters.”
    Fiona bristled behind her vixenish getup. “(That’s who we are.)”
    Britt, still twining hair with one hand, cupped the other behind an ear.

27—Now You Don't

Vicki's second serious relationship with a guy: the enigmatic Dave Solovay, whom she only sees after sunset or before daybreak.
    “(He’s here! Out there! That guy!)”
    “The groper guy?”
    “(Shhhh! No—the guy who said his name is Dave!)”
    She had confided the whole happenstance to Joss, who sat up now and whisper-demanded, “(Where do you think you’re going?...)”
    “(To see him, talk to him.)”
    “(Now??... The sun’s not up yet—hold on a sec!)” Joss rose, slipping on a lightweight robe. “(C’mon —we’ll use the kitchen stairs—you go out the back door—I’ll watch through the front window.)”
    “(Whaddaya mean, watch?)”
    “(Do you know this guy’s not the groper?)”
    “(Yes I do!)”
    “(Well I don’t, which is why I’m keeping an eye on you both...)”

28—Born to Spittlecute

Vicki overcomes a harsh winter, the Duckweight Clique, and her own reaction to being named after Queen Victoria, to host a concert party at a stripmall disco.
    And obnoxious as Gumbo was, insufferable as your best friend’s boyfriend, you had to admit his layouts snagged the eye.
    LIVE AT THE VINYL SPINNAKER—one night only—three hours only—soft drinks only—THE ROSA DARTLES (VW’s premier all-girl rock group) would be saluting Vicki Volester’s QUINCEAÑERA (a term borrowed from Alex’s birthday in December) on Presidents Day—Shrove Monday—J’ouvert—The Night Before Mardi Gras: MON FEB 21st 5:30pm-8:30pm (no cover charge—donations appreciated—free parking at Panama Plaza)...


Vicki, picked to defend two students accused of cheating on a midterm, discovers they may be connected to a cult of luded-out rich kids.
    “And the Travers gang runs the rings?” Striding faster: “So d’y’think that means Britt...?”
    “(I still say she’s not one of ‘em, not for real. But I bet you she handles their money laundering, at least at VW.)”
    “What exactly is that, anyway?”
    “(Cooking the books, so money you make crookedly looks like you made it straight. Such as,)” Feef added grimly, “(by selling rock band T-shirts, and stickers, and pins—)”
    Vicki gaped down at hers in dawning horror. “Oh Gahd, Feef! This is awful! We could all go to PRISON—”

30—Gonna Fly Now

Vicki and her bunch finish junior high school in a flurry of yearbook paste-ups, pregnancy scares, and Lord of the Flies-ish dance décor.
Red and black were predominant, aptly so for the Home of the Beetles (AND THE LADYBUGS!) but also evocative of fresh blood and dark shadows. Other colors were vivid on the walls, hung with slightly irregular bursts of purple, yellow, hungry-jungle green. Tie-dyed bedsheets shimmered like sky-blue mirages flapping over the South Pacific; and from cardboard palm trees dangled artful bunches of Gumboesque coconuts. No pig’s heads on sticks, or with apples in their mouths; but the night was young...