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
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
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...
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
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...
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
“What?” Joss demanded.
“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
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
“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
“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...
Vicki is asked to keep tabs on teammate Alex Dmitria,
whose radiant hyperactivity can no longer mask her underlying
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
“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...”
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
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?...
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
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
“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.
Vicki's second serious relationship with a guy: the
enigmatic Dave Solovay, whom she only sees after sunset or before
“(He’s here! Out there! That guy!)”
“The groper guy?”
“(Shhhh! No—the guy who said his name is
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
“(Yes I do!)”
“(Well I don’t, which is why I’m
keeping an eye on you both...)”
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
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—”
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...