Remember Me 2: The Return
1994, 210 pages
My beef with this book is so huge that it might even have been genetically engineered. Starting with the back cover book description. Bunch o' stuff, then:
"Not everybody on earth welcomes Wanderers. Of the few who know of their existence, some want them dead. And others, the truly evil ones, wish them much worse than that."
Wow, that sounds really interesting. But... it doesn't even happen. Unless I, like, slept through it. This book is not good, guys. I hate to be the one to tell you. Actually, I don't. I wish more people had told me! I actually bought this. Recently! It was $2.50! WHYYYYY?!?!?!
I didn't read it as a kid, but that's not why I hated it. I'm Glad (Jennifer Lopez, 2003. Holy crap, I'm doing the Goldmember!) that I didn't read it when I was younger. I probably wouldn't have been able to handle it. This is not the sequel that Remember Me deserves. On with it --->
Shari Cooper - we know her from Remember Me
Peter Nichols - also still dead
Sporty - Darlene's boyfriend who was killed in a drive by shooting
Jean Rodrigues - tired of living
Carol - Jean's best friend, gay
Lenny - Jean's boyfriend, stereotype
Darlene - friends with Jean and co, vengeance seeker
Characters, Unknown Status
Rishi - the master of spirituality or something
Los Angeles, CA
One year after Shari's murder
Everything starts out promising. Just like the Shari of one year ago, Jean is getting ready for a birthday party. The person doing the aging is her boyfriend, Lenny. And, boy, does she have a birthday surprise for him: she's pregnant.
Jean drinks her juice in South Central's Hispanic ghetto. She's about to graduate from high school, and doesn't know what will happen to her life now that she's pregnant. She wonders if Lenny will force her to abort or take her somewhere and shoot her or what.
Honestly, guys, when you're reading about broken condoms on page 3, you know you're in for it.
Jean's best friend Carol, a girly lesbian, comes to pick her up for the party. Jean tells us that she and Carol are really into the weed and smoke up every day. Jean's super-stressed from life, school, and her job as a Subway sandwich artist. She NEEDS this party so she can get loaded and forget everything. I love how, like, she's pregnant. But whatever, I'm not here to judge.
At the party, a hookah filled with Colombian Gold is set up for the partygoers. Jean's kind-of-but-not-really friend Darlene is there with a question for Jean: do her and Carol ever have sex? This was written in '94, so that might be scandalous.
Later, after the party people clear out, Lenny and Jean have a moment alone. She tells him she's pregnant. He leaves the room and she falls asleep. When she wakes up, only Lenny, Darlene, and Carol are still around.
Darlene believes that Juan Chianto killed her boyfriend Sporty, and she wants revenge. Jean thinks it's too dangerous to go after someone so high up in gang land. She and Darlene argue, then Jean goes out on the apartment's deathtrap balcony to get away from the noise. She stands on the rickety thing, reflecting on how effed up her life is and wishing she could get away from it all. Suddenly, the balcony floor vanishes beneath her and she plummets to the ground.
At this point in the story, we meet Rishi and I start to get annoyed. Rishi's a seer, and some kind of master in the spirit world. Shari hangs out with him a lot. Maybe other people would find an inspirational message in all this. I don't want to sound like a dumbass and a heathen, but that's what I am, so I can't help it if I don't want to read page after page of "there's no such thing as time, there's no such thing as death".
Let's break for an "Interlude of Entertainment": Hey, remember that one episode of Star Trek? You know, one of the old ones, where Spock and Dr. McCoy go to ancient Rome and think that the Romans are all pagans worshipping the sun, and are going to war with them over it, but it turns out that they worship the Son, Jesus Christ, just like everyone else who deserves to live in peace, and it was all just a crazy Three's Company-style mix up. Now that's a good story.
Now back to your regularly scheduled piece of shiz. I mean, um, awes- oh, whatever. I'm not gonna pretend in front of grown ass people. The Rishi offers Shari a chance to go back to Earth into the body of an 18 year old girl who is tired of life. Shari will be a Wanderer, and will have no guarantee of remembering her life as Shari Cooper once she becomes Jean Rodrigues.
Jean wakes up in the hospital with broken ribs, a bad knee, and some head injuries. It's Monday and she's been out since her fall on Friday night. Carol is at her bedside. Jean asks if Lenny has been to see her. Turns out that he was on the balcony too. His spine snapped and he is paralyzed for life. In other news (Good? Bad? You decide!), Jean miscarried her pregnancy in the fall.
Now it gets even more Rishi-diculous. Rishi preps Shari for her mission by recounting the successes of some famous wanderers in history in a segment I like to call "Famous Wanderers in History". Einstein was a Wanderer. Remember how he was, like, stupid then he suddenly became smart? That was the work of a Wanderer. Martin Luther King, also a Wanderer. Malcolm X. He, too, was a Wanderer. He was able to circumvent the rules of peacefulness that Wanderers must follow because segregation was what the African-American community needed at the time. I gotta say, Pike's taking some serious liberties with shit here.
As Jean, Shari will be a famous author and a great role model for Hispanic youth. Rishi is probably human, but I picture him as Rafiki in The Lion King. Like, not making any sense and annoying the hell out of Simba (i.e. me). Except I'm not going to talk to my dad in the sky or defeat my uncle to rule Pride Rock. I'm just gonna debate making up my own ending to this book and wonder how many people will call me on it.
Back in Jean's life, she's stopped getting high and started volunteering at the hospital. One patient, Debra Zimmerer, is 18 years old and dying of leukemia. She is reading Lord of the Rings, and asks Jean to spoil it for her because she won't be able to finish it before she dies.
Jean tells her the story, and also brings some of her original writing for Debra to look at. Jean tries to spend time with Lenny in the hospital, too. He's been suicidal since the fall and usually wants to be alone.
As parts of her memory start to come back, Jean has some strange Shari-like urges. Instead of going to her crappy neighbourhood beach, she goes to the nice one in Shari's old 'hood. She visits the spot where Shari died, and the landlady there tells her all about Shari's murder.
After looking up the Cooper family in the phonebook, she visits their house. Jean stops to talk to Jimmy, who is in the driveway packing his car. He introduces himself as "James Cooper". Why so formal, Jimbo? Jimmis. Jimdinga. Jimenstein. Never James Cooper. James Cooper is the 2nd adopted son of Charles and Caroline Ingalls. Don't start messing with my cranium here and make me picture young Jason Bateman when I KNOW that's not what you look like. Jimmy is moving to his own apartment. Jean offers to help him move in exchange for a drive home.
Back in Rishi-World, we are treated to some false Peter information. Peter was wearing jeans and a ball cap when he met Shari in the afterlife. Uh, no. I just read Remember Me and it was baggy white shorts and a red T-shirt top. No accessories were mentioned. Good generic try, though. And I don't wanna nitpick, but on one page he's called Peter Nichols and on the next page he's called Peter Jacobs. Maybe it's some kind of trick, like perception is reality. He's transforming into something else. Or maybe the editors just bungled it. Blah.
Shari and Peter have scheduled a date, and plan on having spirit sex. Peter is reluctant, so Shari asks him if his, erm, bits still work. Peter: "Are you asking me if I'm impotent?" That woulda had me going for the dictionary when I was younger, fo' sho'. There were no Cialis commercials in the early-mid 90s to educate the little girls of North America about penis function.
Together, Shari and Peter - oh, I don't even friggin' know anymore - float to the stars or something. There's a dark cloud over the Middle East. One of them says: "I do hope they get their act together there. It looks ready to explode." Wow. I'm speechless. I wonder why it would ever explode???
They talk about Mars. And we're all stars. And you're all a part of me, and I'm a part of you. OMG - this book is getting into Jan Brady quotes from The Brady Bunch Movie. I can't believe it. If only it were RuPaul instead of Rishi. I'd be in heaven.
On Earth, Jean and Carol drive to Debra's grave. She has died of her leukemia in the meantime. I got confused when I started this chapter and thought it was Darlene who was dead. Must... pay... better attention. Now that Shari is Jean, Jean's all sanctimonious, tellin' Carol 'go to college' and 'don't be gay'.
Jean brought a story that she'd finished writing to read aloud to Debra's grave. The story-within-a-story is about an author whose muse lives in her closet and tries to blackmail her. It's pretty entertaining and lasts from page 116 - 144, but I'm not gonna go into it. The best quote from the story, though, is "Grammar is for editors and pansies".
Later that day, Jean calls up Jimmy to see if he wants any company. He feels inexplicibly comfortable around her, and even shows her a story about his sister's death that he'd written while he was sleepwalking. He leaves the room to let Jean read it, and as she does, she recognizes that she wrote it. She, Shari Ann Cooper.
Jean reads a little, and then calls Jimmy back in. She tells him a bunch of stuff that only Shari would know, convincing him that she is Shari. They stay up all night talking. Jimmy was easy to convince because he's open to metaphysical things. I guess that's my problem: I'm not open.
Jimmy invites Jean to live with him, but she remembers the Rishi's instructions. Jean has to stay in South Central and try to make things better there. Jimmy tells Jean that Dan is still dating Beth Palmones. Why is she plural in Part II? There are so many mistakes, I almost think some of them had to be on purpose.
That night, Jean calls her mother (Mrs. Rodrigues, that is), who tells her to call Carol immediately. Carol is frantic! Darlene has a piece ("gun") and Lenny is checking hisself out of hospital. They're going after Juan!
Jean rushes to Darlene's and takes Lenny back to Jimmy's apartment. I thought this plot was too messed up to even think about bringing charades into it, but, sadly, I was wrong:
Lenny: "Drop the charade, Jean. You're screwing this guy..."
Jean: "You drop the charade, you bastard."
Lenny goes into psycho overdrive and pulls the gun on Jean. He thinks that she was screwing Sporty and that it was Sporty's baby, and that's why Sporty had to die. Lenny had set Sporty up! Lenny orders Jean onto the balcony for her execution. He shoots Jean in the side and tells her to jump headfirst, or he'll keep shooting. She gets up on the railing and Lenny says: "That's a good little slut". WHAAATTTTTTT>?!!!?>? That's, like, porn talk. Where the HELL did that come from??
Jean falls, but holds onto the edge of the balcony, hoping that Lenny can't make it though the balcony door in his wheelchair. She sees his face. "Master!" "Shari." But it's Peter. Shari calls Peter "Master" in the afterlife? Say what? Then Jean falls.
It turns out that Rishi had made a deal with Peter. Peter had wanted to go back to a body too, and be with Shari. Since he'd committed suicide, there was a waiting period, but Rishi pulled some strings for him. Because Peter would have been crippled in his accident if he'd lived, he had to return to the body of a cripple. This Rishi guy isn't the most politically correct, eh? Rishi had taken both Peter and Shari to the hospital the day Jean and Lenny had woken up after the accident, and installed both of them in their new bodies.
Jean's fall landed her in the deep end of the pool! She lives! Jimmy, and Shari's old friend Jo show up, and even though Jean's in a pool full of blood, shot, and could possibly die, Jo, who Jimmy had told everything to, tells Jean she's gonna need a nickname if she keeps falling off of balconies. She will henceforth be called "The Fall Girl".
It ends: "To Be Continued..."
Yeah, to be continued next week. Remember Me Part 3: The Return, right here on Like Pike. Will I like it? Am I gonna hate it? Will I still "Like Pike" after I get through with it? Only time will tell.