1986, 230 pages
Saturday they worked on their tans. By Sunday they were working on staying alive.
The dream became a nightmare.
Shani Tucker - Robin's best friend, has a crush on Flynn
Kerry Ladd - used to date Sol, hates Lena
Angie Houston - dating Park
Robin Carlton - Lena's sister, used to date Park, is on kidney dialysis
Lena Carlton - Robin's sister, dating Sol, Kerry's nemesis
Sol Celaya - Latin tough guy, dating Lena, used to date Kerry
Park Jacomini - smart guy, dating Angie, used to date Robin
Bert Billings - Moose from the Archie comics
Flynn Powers - mysterious guy from England
I'm going to start here, even though the book doesn't.
Pretty much all the gals are cheerleaders, which is why they don't have personality traits beside their names in the character list. Kerry and Sol are in a relationship, but Lena likes Sol. Lena's dad is a really rich record producer, and Lena always gets what she wants. During cheer warm up before the big homecoming football game, Lena spills a can of Coke all over Kerry's shorts. Her shorts and underwear are unwearable. After waiting and debating it, she decides to go commando under her dance pants during the half-time routine. But - OMG - her pants have been replaced with look-alike paper pants. While performing a tumble-splits-herkie, her pants split open with a capacity crowd of thousands on-hand to witness the wardrobe malfunction. Kerry's friends try their best to sell the student body on "flesh coloured panties", but it's not happening. In the aftermath of the embarrassment, Sol dumps Kerry for Lena. Kerry is certain that Lena is the one who switched the pants.
A while later, still in November, the gang is attending a party at Angie's. Kerry, Angie, Shani, Park, Sol, and Bert are getting their drink on while rocking out to such musical acts as Beach Boys, Michael Jackson, The Pretenders, and Carpenters. Everyone is hammed to the max. Shani's been half-passed-out in front of the can for hours. Angie is trying to seduce Park into skinny-dipping in the pool. Kerry and Sol, even though they recently broke up, are dancing. Robin and Lena, who are sisters, but were both adopted by their parents, show up to the party after catching the late showing of Brainstorm. Lena takes immediate possession of Sol, and Angie has to lay offa Park now that his girlfriend is in the hizzouse. Angie made homemade chocolate chip cookies for the party and everyone takes some to go with their beer.
Robin has never drunk booze before, so everyone is peer-pressuring her into doing it. Sol brings her a glass from the keg, which she chugs. Shortly after, everyone either goes to sleep or passes out. A while later, Kerry wakes Shani up saying she is really sick and there was something in the beer. Shani checks with everyone else who was drinking, and finds Robin unconscious in the bedroom. No, it’s not roofies. Robin is pale, not breathing well, and won't wake up. They drive her to the hospital. There was a large quantity of insect poison in the beer she drank. Enough poison to cause permanent damage to her kidneys and liver. Before she became ill, Robin had a voice that could rival Linda Ronstadt. She had definite potential to become an eighties pop star, a la Robin Sparkles.
For the long weekend commencing with Senior Skip (or Ditch) Day, the gang has been invited to Carlton Castle, the Mexican vacation residence where Robin has been spending her time since her kidney transplant failed. It's an 8-hour trip to the isolated mansion, so I thought I would make the girls a mix tape for the drive.
Angie wants to play guessing games with Shani about who is coming in the other car. Shani despises guessing games, but guesses "David Bowie" anyway. Nope, it's Shani's crush, Flynn. Poor Shani, carsick in the seatbeltless backseat of Angie's car, is popping Rolaids like mentos. Rolaids, in this case, do not spell relief. They spell “this-is-the-first-of-many-many-many-puking-references-in-this-book”.
On their route, the guys have run into some trouble. Sol's van, which he, Park, Bert, and Flynn are traveling in, has a flat tire. Sol is from the rough barrios of Los Angeles. He's been stabbing people since age 12. Park compares Sol to Fonzie, but I picture him as Weevil from Veronica Mars. After entering Mexico, Sol made everyone get out of the car while he disappeared for an hour. Now he won't let anyone open the spare tire compartment and Park is suspecting the worst of his buddy. DRUGS! Park and Sol, although opposites, have bonded over their love of surfing, a hobby which Park introduced to Sol.
While the guys wait for the girls' car to catch up, they spot an old, hunched over Mexican man in a long, dark gown coming toward them. Sol and Park think he looks like a magic sorcerer. He approaches the two boys, who agree that Sol should do the talking because he speaks Spanish. The man repeats the words snake, eagle, raven, robin. Sol is like, "Robin Carlton?” but the old dude isn't taking any questions. The man saunters off across the desert. Suddenly, a snake rattles toward Sol, threatening to bite him! Flynn pulls out a gun and shoots the snake into bits.
The girls soon arrive. Using one of those spray can inflators, they get Sol's vehicle back on the road. When they get to Carlton Castle, Robin's nurse is just leaving on her vacation. She gets in Flynn's face and is all suspicious of him. She leaves, then everyone gathers inside to see how Robin is doing. She looks terrible. Her ailments are obviously killing her. Lena tells the group that since Robin’s first transplant failed, it doesn’t look good that she will get another chance.
That evening, Lena prepares a meal like something out of Gourmet Sleepover Friends: turkey, ham, baked potatoes, two pots of steamed vegetables, ice cream, potato chips (or, to Flynn, crisps), cola, pastries, and wine.
Everyone eats, and then sits around bored. God, they could have done this in California. Sol suggests an orgy. Cool! I’d hit that. Everyone hates that idea, for some reason (prudes), so he suggests chess instead. Shani’s a little bit of a tool, so she comes up with CHARADES! My hatred for charades cannot be contained. I dunno – maybe it’s because I only ever played it in French class. Sol agrees with me. He says, “It’s a terrible game.” Word. So Shani suggests Monopoly. I’m gonna get a stress headache if I hear one more lame game suggestion. Bert wants to play that game where you write a name on a paper and attach it to someone else where they can’t see it, then he or she asks yes-or-no questions to get clues to who they are. They play that, which, if you really think about it, is better, but also lame. These are high school seniors. Grade 12s, I would call them. They have booze and no parental supervision and they’re playing fucking drama games for 7 year olds?
Before bedtime, Robin tells everyone a story that her buddy, the Mexican sorcerer, told her. It’s got a snake, dove, eagle, and raven. Eagle & Dove were buddies, but then Dove became friends with Raven, too. Raven was jealous of the music Dove could make, so he was gonna double cross Dove and feed her to Snake in exchange for Snake’s rattle. Some other shiz happens and Eagle shows up to save the day, but it comes down to Dove deciding whether to let Eagle kill Raven, or what. Robin gets ill near the end of the story and everyone has to leave.
People scatter to either have sex or go to bed alone. Shani is in the latter group. She’s trying to fall asleep when the phone rings. She picks it up to hear Robin’s nurse and Lena having a conversation about Flynn. She tells Lena to sleep with Flynn herself to keep him away from Robin (!). Nurse Porter is a pimp! Shani is obviously shocked that Flynn is considered so dangerous, and doesn’t want Lena to know that she was listening in, so she performs a cool telephone trick: after Lena and the nurse have hung up, Shani unplugs the phone from the wall jack, hangs up the receiver, then plugs the cord back into the jack. This way the other extensions won’t make that jangle noise.
The next morning, Angie starts a fire on the beach to roast weenies for lunch. Robin is still sick in her room. Park ditches Angie to spend time with her. Robin has a creepy pet blackbird named Rita that she got from the Mexican sorcerer. Rita flies in and out whenever she wants. Robin talks to Rita and tells her stuff. Ok.
Shani goes outside and sees the Mexican sorcerer on the beach. She goes inside to ask Robin if it’s ok to, like, just go up and talk to him, but she can’t find the dialysis room. She comes upon Flynn breaking into Robin’s personal filing cabinet Nancy Drew-style with a pin. Shani takes this opportunity to sneak into Flynn’s room to snoop through his stuff. She finds his passport, which says Michael Ryan Richardson. All right, that’s a little strange. Then she finds his gun in a drawer. Suddenly Flynn appears behind her and she drops the gun in panic. There’s a huge explosion!
Everyone runs outside and sees that the carport and garage, only 50 feet from Carlton Castle are gone and a huge mushroom cloud has formed above them. Bert is the only one who isn’t there. Sol says as far as he knew, Bert was getting something from the van. Park almost pukes when he hears the news. There is no known reason for the garage to have exploded. There are oilfields nearby, and the BBQ pit. Park accuses Sol of having flammable ingredients in his car to make Angel Dust. AKA Angle Dust, as my copy says. The trunk (boot, to Flynn) was full of protractors, apparently.
Meanwhile, the phone lines have gone dead and Robin is getting worse. She is showing signs of uremia. Kerry blames Lena, who is operating Robin’s dialysis machine.
Shani feels compelled to go see the old Mexican sorcerer man. She wonders if something supernatural could have caused the explosion. She walks up a hill and finds the man and his blackbird. He doesn’t speak English. Shani sits with him and the bird comes to sit on her shoulder. She falls asleep and has some kind of wacky dream. Then wakes up and leaves.
On the way back to Carlton Castle, she gets stuck in a ravine. A snake rattles behind her in the dark. She panics! “Rattlesnakes!” Flynn appears and helps her up the side. Shani runs, quick like a bunny, to get away from Flynn. He catches her when she’s feeling a bit bolder, and she calls him “Michael”. Flynn thinks Shani is scared of him, but really she needs to leave because her stomach is starting to cramp. She had puked on the way to see the old man, so she can’t think of why her gut would be buggin’ her again. She tells Flynn what she overheard on the phone, to which he responds that he likes her. They start making out. Shani’s reaction is: “This was madness! But she liked it!” Until she starts hacking and blames the dry air. Gross, Shani. You don’t hack into a hot English guy’s mouth when he’s snogging you.
Back at Carlton Castle, Park is watching Robin sleep. He has decided to dump Angie and go back with Robin. Shani comes into the room. Park shows his smarts by referencing Buckminster Fuller in their conversation. They decide together to break into Robin’s desk so they can read the end of the Eagle/Dove story. In the end, Dove wouldn’t choose whether Raven was to die; she chose only to sing.
Everyone except Robin gathers for dinner. No one has any appetite. There are complaints of cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. Leftovers suck, we've heard it before. Angie says she vomited an hour ago. Park tops that: “I feel like vomiting now.” Shani is runnin’ on both ends. God, ever heard of Pepto-Bismol, guys? It’s good for ALL these symptoms.
Angie gets up from the table and promptly collapses. Lena also collapses. Park hits the ground as Sol face plants into his plate of leftover mashed potatoes. Kerry rolls out of her chair. Shani uses her last moment of consciousness to look at Flynn, expecting to see some kind of evil mastermind gleeful expression on his gob. But no! He says: “We’ve… been… drugged”, as he and Shani pass out simultaneously.
They awake to find themselves handcuffed to the walls in the soundproof recording studio/basement. Only Robin is absent. In the center of the room, a bunch of rowdy snakes are contained in a clear plastic box with a lifting mechanism attached to it. Park is complaining that he needs to go to the can. Flynn’s gun and Sol’s knife are missing. A disembodied voice comes through the walls demanding, “We must have the truth of that night.” Everyone argues, trying to get the story straight. The box starts to lift, nearly freeing some of the snakes. Park doesn’t trust Sol ever since he picked up the drugs in Tijuana. Park, come on now. That’s not the worst thing you can pick up in Tijuana. Sol tells him that it wasn’t drugs, or protractors. It was 300 lbs of fireworks that he had a buyer for in Los Angeles. The group goes step by step through the night Robin was poisoned, but no one is admitting anything.
Knock, knock goes the door. It’s Bert! Dude, we thought you were dead for, like, the last 50 pages! They yell at him to break down the door. He pulls the door off, and, because he’s an idiot, busts the snakebox with the door. Snakes galore! Everyone is frantically trying to get out. I have had it with these motherfucking snakes in this motherfucking recording studio/basement. Lena is the last one in the room, and she is bitten a bunch of times.
They take Lena upstairs, and send Flynn/Michael to go get the snakebite kit and Robin. He returns a moment later with Robin and a rifle. He tells Lena to quit faking and reveals that she had set up the basement scenario. She had a control box behind her to work the voice and snakebox, and handcuff keys in her pocket. The snakes were venomless.
Everyone wants to know where-t-f Bert came from. He says that he had went back into the water, and surfed to the other shore and couldn’t find his way back. He slept on the beach, then wandered around the area for a while. Since the garage and carport were gone, he wasn’t sure if this was a different boxy, futuristic-looking isolated house in the desert, or whether it was indeed Carlton Castle where he was an invited guest. He waited for hours, circling the house, before he finally decided to knock on the door. When there was no answer, he came in anyway and starting checking around for everyone. Guy’s a little slow, methinks. In addition, he had dropped a bottle of tequila on the floor in the garage, busting it. Angie had chased a bird away from her BBQ with a fire stick, and then thrown it in that direction. This explains the explosion. Also, everyone is calling Flynn “Michael” now. Bert asks: “Are you going to kill me, Flynn Michaels?”
Flynn’s a sick sadistic fucker. He rattles a pill bottle, saying that he poisoned everyone and unless he gets answers, he’s not giving them the antidote. After 24 hours, their symptoms are gonna be a hell of a lot worse than Robin’s. He starts giving everyone the third degree (not really, there’s no fiery deaths in this one), until Kerry confesses. That night at Angie’s party, she was so mad at Lena for ruining her life and stealing her boyfriend that she fantasized about revenge by putting the poison into a glass. A while later, when the glass was being handed around, from Lena to Sol to Robin, she was too scared to burst out and tell them what she’d done. Robin is furious and can’t believe that Kerry would have just watched her drink it. Kerry had faked her own illness that night to get Shani to check on Robin during the night.
Another confession comes out, although I’m sure Flynn doesn’t give a flying fuck about this one: Angie was the one who planted the paper pants. She meant to put them in Robin’s locker to embarrass her and make Park dump her.
God, a third confession, again from Kerry: She’s been fucking with Robin’s dialysis machine. She tampered with the filter, so it would look like Lena was either incompetent or trying to kill her sister. Kerry belongs in an asylum.
Flynn/Michael asks Robin if she would like him to kill Kerry. I didn’t mention that he’s been pretty liberal with the bullets up to this point. He shot out a window next to Sol, and blew out a wall behind Kerry. Robin is angry, but doesn’t really want to be put on the spot like this. Shani asks her to sing, like in the story. Robin plays a tape that she’d recorded recently of herself singing “Blackbird”.
Michael reveals that he is Robin’s twin brother. Rich-bitch Carltons wanted a baby, so they bought Robin from her poor, English birthmother who wouldn’t have been able to support twins. When Robin needed a kidney, the Rich-bitch Carltons secretly went back to the birthmother, demanding that she sell any them any and all organs that they would need. The birthmother didn’t wanna just roll over and die and give them what they wanted. It turned out that Michael was the only match. But he didn’t wanna give his kidney to just any twin sister separated at birth. He had to meet her without her knowing who he was to see if she was a deserving person. Once he met Robin and heard about the poison, he pledged to find out what had happened that night.
Turns out Michael lied about poisoning the houseguests. Sick bastard. He had taken the dirty, slimy Mexican water filter out of the new water thingy that was just installed and had not yet been enclosed, and dropped it into the kitchen drinking water tank. Montezuma’s Revenge for all!
Four weeks later, Michael has donated his kidney to Robin and they are both in the hospital recovering. Park has given up his scholarship to Harvard to stay in California with Robin. Angie and Bert are now dating.
Shani is superexcited to see Michael again. He kisses her in the hospital corridor. Everyone gathers in Robin’s room. For some reason, there’s a mini fridge with booze. They pour it into cups to make a toast. Rita, the freakin’ blackbird, flies in through the window, sits on Robin’s shoulder, sips the beer from the cup… then spits it back. Everyone laughs and dumps the beer down the sink.
W E E K E N D