Session 2 recap
...a month later
A month after Vanessa Tsukiyama was ripped out of the community. A month after Medford Mall burned to the ground and Johnny Lachance risked his life to pull Mr. Hastings free from the inferno. A month after Nancy and Gemma saw what no-one would believe.
School is back in session.
There’s a conspicuous vacuum, a consuming hole next to Jean’s desk where Vanessa used to sit. It’s right at the front and everyone can see it. The class is stuck in this strange place between real shock and performative grieving.
Then he walks in. Whether he picked his moment perfectly or whether it was pure good luck, Alexander Ward’s timing was immaculate. Just as all the students are glancing, lost, at the space where Vanessa should be, Alexander walks in, picks up the rose on Vanessa’s desk, drops it in the waste paper basket, and promptly takes her seat.
Jean starts crying. Nancy goes to get the flower to put it back. Alexander plays it cold and cool. Dead cool.
Alexander: It’s a Monday morning, and I’m late. My arrival is timed well enough to make an entrance while not drawing the ire of Ms Douglas. It becomes immediately clear that my old seat has been usurped due a five month absence, and this pisses me off somewhat. The only available seat is the one right in front of me, the dead girl Vanessa’s, who was admittedly kinda pretty. This is a terrible seating position for two reasons. One, I’ll be sitting at the front by Ms Douglas. This leaves me with my back to the entire class, rendering me blind to anything of interest that may be happening. Two, the seat is the closest to the door. This means if I am early, which I usually am, everyone will pass my desk as they enter. This agains leaves me exposed and pisses me off.
I make a show of scanning the room for a seat, ignoring the only empty desk with the touching memorial of a single black rose, placed so poetically upon it. I try not to make any actual eye contact, though I do spot Johnny, and our gazes lock for a mere moment, though I can’t tell if this is intentional on his part, and this leaves me feeling a curious mix of equal parts comfort and irritation. I finally drop my eyes to Vanessa's desk, and with a slight sigh, I let my bag slip forward down my arm, controlling the drop so it lands perfectly without hitting the rose. During this time Jean has been eyeing me nervously, as if I’m about to disturb the memorial of a dear friend. The now sacred virgin Vanessa, whom I pretty sure was banged by Johnny, and at least one other member of the class. However, I’m not certain this is a fact, though I’m pretty confident that Jean and Vanessa weren’t actually friends. I make as if to sit, but, as if seeing the rose as if for the first time, I pick it up as if it were mere detritus and slowly walk towards Ms. Douglas’ desk, gently dropping it into the bin.
This immediately sets off Jean sobbing as the rose makes landfall, and I try hard to stifle a laugh. As the voices grow behind me, I turn to face the class, the murmurs now erupt into competing waves of incredulity and shock at my seemingly casual disprect for Vanessa. I immediately act if I’m the one that should be surprised, raising my eyebrows questioningly, I too looking for the source of disquiet. Sally now rushes to console the blubbering Jean, and I see Nancy Horne striding towards me. Nancy is giving me some serious stink eye, which does little to diminish her hotness, she is definitely one of the best looking girls in the class, if not the best, though she does wear too much makeup and has a poor sense of fashion, though nowhere as bad as the weirdo... Grace? Is she even in this class anymore? Weirdness and personality notwithstanding, she could be pretty, but dresses like she is on welfare, and probably is.
I stare at Nancy’s cute little mouth, lips pursed and very biteable, the build up before she lays into me. I catch something about newspapers and France, but I’m not really listening, though I think I say, “Yeah, France, you need a passport to go there”
Alexander was always a Good student, and when he didn’t show up in class back in October, the rumours quickly went round he’d gone on that French Exchange program some teacher mentioned once. Rumours seem to stick round here.
Ms Douglas announces a visitor - it’s Sheriff Baxter, rifle in hand. There’s going to be a hunt. There’s wild dogs in the woods and anyone who’s willing or able to shoot a gun will receive Special Deputy Dispensation to join the hunt tonight. Buck and Freddie are signing up, Frank, Diane and Marvin next. Pretty soon the whole class appears to have been caught up in the frenzy of punishing the beast that got Vanessa. Even Gemma, who seems incredulous that people would turn to such violence at times of extreme stress, signs up.
When Gemma gets home after school she finds her dad, drunk again, gearing up for the hunt. He’s been pretty listless since he lost his job again, so a bit of activity and direction is exciting for him. Gotta get that bottle out of his hand before he sees the sheriff though.
Professor Ward is also gearing up for the hunt when Alexander gets home. He says something about ‘...for the good of the community’ but this is strange behaviour from one normally so passive.
Johnny’s back at his dad’s garage when Buck and Freddie pull up, showing off the guns they got from the sheriff. These kids are going to cause an accident if they’re not careful. Buck and Freddie are up to their old dickish ways, but Johnny doesn’t let them get to him. They drive off, whooping and hollering like the frat boys they want to be.
At Annie’s Diner, Marvin’s getting a shift in before heading out to the hunt later. It’s empty - everyone’s getting ready for the event. Everyone except Nancy Horne, that is. Marvin is such a dork, Nancy has no trouble getting him hot under the collar and ready to follow her every command.
As the evening draws in, the townsfolk congregate at the town square. Gemma shows up with her dad and they run into Johnny. Mr. Hastings is clearly enamoured with the boy who saved his life and tries to set the two kids up, but neither is interested in the other in that way. It’s all very embarrassing for Gemma.
Johnny goes over to get a bottle of Coke™ from a machine, as Alexander silently appears behind him, putting his hand gently on Johnny’s arm. The two of them have some unfinished business, from out in the woods, before Alexander ‘left’.
(What happened at the Coke™ Machine between Johnny and Alexander?)
Guns are handed out, deputies paired, and the Sheriff designates a Shooter and a Spotter for each couple. Alexander volunteers to ride pillion, behind Johnny on his motorcycle. Nancy is with Marvin, who’s getting a ride in his brother’s pickup. Gemma and Mr. Hastings also find themselves in Garth’s truck. Marvin and Mr. Hastings sit in the back, leaving Garth, Gemma and Nancy inside.
(What happened in the truck between Nancy and Gemma?)
The convoy heads out of town on the main road into the woods when there’s a mighty crash at the front. Garth’s truck swerves to a stop and Johnny rides up to see what’s going on. At the front there’s a wolf, standing up, in the middle of the road. It’s been stuffed and placed there. The Sheriff’s wagon had to swerve to avoid it. Alexander shoots the stuffed wolf, from behind Johnny. As Nancy, Gemma and the rest make their way up to the front of the queue they notice a glinting in the woods to the sides as more and more taxidermied animals are seen. The forest is a menagerie of frozen poses, sightless stares.
Tsukiyama is coming.
Driven by the demon released from his broken heart, Vanessa’s father approaches the citizens of Cold Cheer, misty-eyed and mindless. He wants revenge on someone, something. He starts firing wildly,
***(What happens? Does Johnny knock him down, then Nancy tells Marvin to shoot Mr. Tsukiyama, but he shoots Johnny, Gemma goes over to help Johnny, he calls her Nancy, and Alexander shouts out Tsukiyama still has a gun so the townspeople shoot helpless Mr. Tsukiyama?)***
Annie’s Diner is the first stop back in town, so they’re using it as an emergency triage center for those affected in the violence and the pile-up. Nancy and Alexander get back on Johnny’s motorcycle as he’s brought back by first-aiders. Nancy has one person to blame and goes straight up to Marvin who seems traumatised by what he did to Johnny. She flies in to a rage, babbling some strange words and walks back to Alexander.
(What happens to Marvin?)
(What happens between Nancy, Johnny and Alexander?)
(What happens when Gemma catches up with them?)