LAST TIME: Liz (the coolest girl in the 3rd grade) and T.M. (her sidekick and "girl that's a friend") grew closer, making me think there might be some truth to those pesky lesbian rumors. Meanwhile, Allyson ran away from The Dark House, but her parents were too busy kidnapping Henry and planning her upcoming nuptials to bother with an Amber Alert—or whatever the 1986 equivalent was. Liz and T.M. made it their personal mission to hunt Allyson down, and they eventually found her hiding out with her eyelashless friend Charlotte in the poorly named "Moss Grove." Liz pretty much ordered Allyson to return home, and not only did Allyson obey, they ended up—you guessed it!—becoming friends. One rousing sign-language rendition of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and a plate full of chocolate chip cookies later, a stranger knocked on Charlotte's door and everyone reacted like it was the first sign of the apocalypse.
Chapter 13: The Stranger
"It's the paper boy." T.M. was scared. "I'm sure."
"No," replied Charlotte. "He comes at 8:00 A.M."
"Then it's your gramma." T.M. had to find a solution.
"She lives in Florida." Charlotte answered. "And always calls."
"Maybe it was......" T.M. began.
"You guys cool it, okay." I said trying to be calm.
Allyson hid in the corner, stiff and pale.
"Allyson!" I was getting mad.
"Don't let them take me!" she cried.
"You know who it is?" I asked.
She burst into tears.
"Allyson!" Charlotte tried to comfort her.
"It's the 'Lightening Bolts'" she answered. A tear rolled down her cheek. "Don't let them take me."
Oh, DUH! The paperboy comes at 8:00 a.m., so it must be the Lightning Bolts!
"More than one!" exclaimed Tiff.
"Yes." Allyson confessed. "They want me."
"We need a plan." said Charlotte.
"Yipee!" I cried. "I love tricks and stuff."
What is this, an episode of Lost? Why doesn't someone ask her who exactly these Lightning Bolts are and what the hell their interest is in a nine-year-old goth Pilgrim? And, Liz? Your friend is having an emotional breakdown and your response is, "YIPEE, I LOVE TRICKS AND STUFF"??? I can't even get into how inappropriate that is.
"Okay" she said. "Allyson can hide in the passageway tunnel from my room to the attic." She walked around. "In the middle."
Oh, a secret passage. How convenient! I am actually now creating a blog label for secret passage/room, because I was COMPLETELY OBSESSED with secret passages, thanks largely to Clue (I was all about the secret passage from the Lounge to the Conservatory) and Ann M. Martin. After I read The Ghost at Dawn's House, I spent a good week trying in vain to find a hollow wall somewhere—anywhere!—in my house. In my fantasy world, pretty much EVERYONE had a secret passage somewhere on their property, which is probably why no one so much as blinks when Charlotte mentions hers.
"Can I be your sister?" I wondered.
"Sure, you can watch T.V."
Watching TV? That's how she's going to get tricky? LAME.
"I need a mother..."
"We need a mother." I corrected. [In case you guys forgot this was somehow about Liz.]
"It has to be T.M."
"Okay, I guess." she answered. "But I'm too small."
This is a stunning example of nine-year-old logic. Oh, SURE, a nine-year-old can pass as an adult! A MIDGET adult!!!
"Now," she continued. "I'll answer the door. Allyson and Tiff will be upstairs. Liz, you'll be watching T.V. I'll say my mom's in the shower. So, Tiff, you'll have the shower on upstairs. And if you have to come down, put on my pink bathrobe. It's hanging on the door."
She and Allyson went upstairs and I turned on the television.
This seems like an unnecessarily intricate plot they've cooked up. I'm thinking the easiest thing would be to, you know, NOT ANSWER THE DOOR.
Chapter 14: Thunder and Lightening Bolts
10 seconds later I heard shower water going.
"I hope she wets her hair." Charlotte was nervous.
"She'll think of it." I answered. "She's smart."
"Yeowwww!" screamed Tiff. "Boy, this stuff is cold on your head!" she complained. "Charlotte, you should have told me!"
If I'm not mistaken, this implies that T.M. has never showered before.
"She remembered." I said and we giggled.
"Ding-Dong" went the doorbell.
Charlotte must have the world's longest driveway if the Lightning Bolts are just ringing the bell now.
"Back to T.V." I said. "Good luck."
"Thanks! I need it—so do you." Was the answer.
"I'm comin'. I'm comin'." said Charlotte.
"Good luck, again." I answered and turned around.
"Thanks—again." And she walked over to the door.
"Hello." she said. "May I help you?"
"All-i-son Prie hewe?" asked the first.
I believe what we're reading now is "stupid person" dialect.
"No. I'd get my mom but she's taking a shower."
"Well, could ya tell 'er were here?" This one was more polite.
"I'll see." she said. "Emily! Oh, Emily! Turn off that T.V." Obviously, she meant me.
"Okay, okay." I said and turned it off.
"They'de like to see mom." She eyed me and pointed upstairs.
"Oh." I sounded like a fool.
You said a mouthful, Liz.
"Mom!" I ran upstairs and into the bathroom.
Tiff sat on the toilet seat.
"They want you." I realized I was frantic. "Hurry!" I grabbed the bathrobe.
Tiff took off the towel that was wrapped around her. She had a bathing suit on!
"Why are you wearing that?" I questioned.
Liz was so hoping she'd be nekkid.
"Well." she began. "I was listening to you. I figured I'd have to come down. Then, I saw this bathing suit hanging up. So, I put it on."
Because it would have been WAY too racy for T.M. to have nothing on under that pink bathrobe.
"Oh." She wet her hair. "Couldn't forget that!"
Obviously the entire plan hinges on this one detail, so I had to include it twice.
"EMILY!" Charlotte was getting impatient.
"We're coming!" I yelled and ran down.
BOOM! went the thunder.
Lightening filled the sky and it began to pour.
"Thunder and lightening bolts" I mumbled.
"What?!" Our guests shreiked.
"I—I said i-i-it was raining v-very h-hard!" Whew!
Liz could maybe use a little practice with the ad-libbing.
Chaper 15: My Midget Mother
As we looked up we saw Tiff walking downstairs.
She stepped slow and easy.
She looked like an—angel.
She had her long red hair hanging down on her shoulders.
She wore the pink bathrobe and pink slippers.
She looked beautiful.
It's official: Liz is the biggest lesbian in the 3rd grade. Or at least the coolest.
"Why is she so short?" one asked.
"She's a midget." Charlotte whispered.
"Oh." He answered as if he didn't understand.
Wait, how old are these guys supposed to be? Let's see... they arrived by car, so we can deduce that they're at least 16. Gross.
"Yes?" Boy, she sounded great.
"Well, um, we're lookin' for Allison Pwie. You seen 'er?"
"No. Girls, have you?"
We shook our heads.
"No? Let's see.... Oh! Is she sick? I think I remember her mother calling for you to bring her homework. Have you?"
"What was it she had? Measles, mumps, chicken pox....... That's it—chicken pox. Very contagous."
Super contagous. Watch out, guys.
"Oh, um, that's O.K. Uh, thanks. Ah, Bye!"
They were gone.
"Now, let's get Allyson!"
Chapter 16: We agree
"Allyson!" Charlotte called.
"Allyson!" I called.
"Allyson!" Tiff called.
Charlotte opened the passageway and Allyson crawled out. She grabbed Charlotte. "Don't let them take me! You wouldn't!" She shook her. "You can't!"
Seriously, could someone ask her WHY THEY WANT TO TAKE HER? And what exactly they plan on doing with her when they have her? Someone? ANYONE?
"They're gone!" I said.
Charlotte smiled at me.
"But, boy," Tiff said "were they dumb!"
"Completely!" I agreed.
"Totally!" Charlotte agreed, too.
"Tell me about it!" Allyson shreiked with joy.
I'll admit, you would have to be pretty stupid to be outwitted by the plan we just witnessed.
"And they didn't know what midget meant!" said Charlotte.
"Really?" Allyson asked.
"And I had to make up this thing about you having chicken pox!" Tiff exclaimed.
"I'm glad it's not true!" Allyson cried.
I don't know about you, but given the choice between a) having a bunch of creepy dudes wanting to steal me away for God knows what purpose and b) having chickenpox, I would go with the chickenpox. No contest.
"Yeah." I said. "We all are."
"Oh, thanks, Liz!"
"Your welcome, Allyson!"
"Who asked you?"
"Why you did, of course."
"Oh, never mind."
Enjoy this scintillating dialogue while you can, because we've almost reached the end.
"You guys, stop!" Charlotte yelled.
"Okay." Tiff continued "they were dumb!"
"YEAH!!!" we all agreed.
Chapter 17: Mom's real appearence
The door opened downstairs and a voice called, "CHARLOTTE! I'M HOME!"
"Hey, mom! My friends are over!"
I'm sure she's thrilled to learn there's a gaggle of unsupervised children at her house.
"O.K., honey. I see you ate the cookies!"
"Well, yeah, Ma, we did."
AND THAT'S WHERE IT ENDS. Seriously. Mid-chapter, with that line about the cookies. And—even worse—all of our questions about the Lightning Bolts unanswered! So I'll do what I can for you...
My vague recollection is that the Lightning Bolts were a motorcycle gang of sorts. I know, I know, they showed up in a car. Maybe they read the weather forecast and left the choppers at home? That part isn't so clear, but I strongly feel they were a motorcycle gang.
Oddly enough, this was the influence of my favorite TV show, Rags to Riches—which was NOT about a motorcycle gang, but instead a group of sassy (former) orphans who liked to break randomly into song. In the pilot (or as I referred to it, "the movie"), however, one orphan does run off ever so briefly with her boyfriend's motorcycle gang. They're called the Road Hogs, and Billy Warlock is one of them, so that should give you an idea of how not-so-intimidating they were. But apparently I was like, "Hmmm... motorcycle gangs. I can use this!"
Sadly, I have NO memory of what went down between Allyson Prie and the Lightning Bolts. When I read it now my main suspicions are "fetish kiddie porn" and "child slavery," but that's probably not what I had in mind at age nine. Maybe Mr. Prie had a gambling addiction that forced him to stray from the Path of Darkness, and he lost Allyson to the Lightning Bolts in a high-stakes poker game? Perhaps Allyson was once betrothed to one of the LBs in his pre–motorcycle gang days, but once he joined the secular world, Mrs. Prie reneged on the marriage contract? And Mr. LB is determined to claim his rightful wife? Or did Allyson simply witness something unsavory back there in Moss Grove? Your guess is as good as mine.
What I DO know is that we need some kind of ending here, so let's discuss: What have we learned that friends are for?
1) Giving you unsolicited makeovers
2) Attempted manslaughter
3) Pointless bickering
4) Forcing you to reunite with your mildly sinister family
5) Teaching you sign language
6) Eating cookies
7) Pretending to be a midget so you can escape from motorcycle gang members who are so stupid they actually forget their motorcycles
8) Never asking questions, even when they really, really should
That, you guys, is what friends are for.
NEXT TIME: The full scoop on my Rags to Riches obsession, including letters to the cast that discuss everything from the weather to boys to my exciting souvenir shop purchases.
11 months ago