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Maureen spotted Trevor the next day during lunch. He was carrying a tray through the cafeteria, and it looked like he was coming straight for the table where she and Frances were seated. It was still warm outside that day. High temperatures had been predicted in the eighties. It was a little weird, but Maureen wasn't complaining. Instead, she was enjoying her turkey sandwich and trying to explain to Frances that in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the kids who got killed weren't supposed to be interesting. The murderers were. "You're not supposed to care if they get killed," she said. "They're stupid. The interesting part is the fucked-up family of killers."
Trevor was definitely coming for the table. Maureen pretended not to notice.
"But," said Frances, "that girl gets away. You're supposed to be rooting for her."
He was there. "Hey, Maureen," he said.
"Hi, Trevor," she said.
"You mind if I sit here?" he said.
Maureen looked at Frances. Frances shrugged. Maureen nodded. Trevor sat down.
"We were talking about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," said Frances. "Maureen made me watch it last night."
"Oh," said Trevor, surveying his tray. "You know, in Praxton, you could buy Pizza Hut for lunch at school. They set up right in the cafeteria."
"Welcome to bumfuck," Frances said cheerily. "You want some Cheetos? I have two bags."
Trevor shook his head. "So Texas Chainsaw Massacre, huh? Don't let me ruin your conversation."
"Do you like the movie?" said Maureen.
"Not really. It's based on a true story, and I never liked the idea of turning real horror into slasher movie."
"It's not based on a true story," said Maureen.
"It said it was," Frances countered.
"It's based on Ed Gein," Maureen said. "That's the same guy they based Norman Bates in Psycho on. Ed Gein lived out in the middle of nowhere, and he killed people. But he didn't have a family of crazy killers, and those kids in the movie are totally made up."
"Really?" said Trevor. "How'd they get away with saying it was a true story, then?"
"I think the key word there is based," said Maureen.
"Yeah, but you're making it sound like they could have said the same thing about Psycho, and they didn't."
Maureen shrugged. "You've seen the movie, right? Did it seem very true to life to you?"
"You've got a point," said Trevor.
"Hey," said Frances, "you should be careful. Sitting with us at lunch is like signing your death warrant around here."
"Oh right," said Trevor. "You guys being pariahs and all."
Frances made a confused face, but didn't say anything.
"I asked around about you two," said Trevor. "Maureen, what's this Death Girl stuff?"
"It's dumb," said Maureen. Usually she didn't care about the stupid nickname. Actually, truth be told, she sometimes kind of liked it. It felt edgy. But now, with Trevor asking about it, she felt really embarrassed, and she wished he'd drop the whole thing.
"Maureen did a report in eighth grade on mass murderers," said Frances. "She's really into that."
"Kind of," said Maureen. "It's just a hobby."
Travis raised his eyebrows. "That why you know so much about Texas Chainsaw Massacre?"
Maureen shook her head. "No. I just picked that stuff up. Ed Gein was a serial killer. Serial killers are different than mass murderers."
"God," said Frances. "Don't get her started."
Maureen glared at Frances. "I wasn't gonna say anything else."
"How are they different?" Trevor asked.
"Well, serial killers usually kill serially. You know, like a serial monogamist? One person right after another. Mass murderers kill a whole bunch of people at one time."
Trevor nodded. "Yeah, but is that really all that different?"
"Totally. They have whole different psychoses. I mean, serial killers are deeply fucked up from day one, practically. Mass murderers usually just snap. They have perfectly normal lives until one day they just go nuts and kill people."
"Don't a lot of mass murderers plan it all out, though?" said Trevor. "Like that dude. The guy in Texas who shot all those people from the roof of his house in the seventies?"
"Gus Lee Perry?"
"Yeah. I saw some thing on him on the History Channel once. Didn't they find all these massive plans written out in his house? He'd been planning the whole thing for like weeks, and he didn't have any reason to do it."
"Well, Gus Lee Perry was crazy. He thought he heard bees buzzing in his head. And he was a Vietnam vet," said Maureen. What was Trevor's point anyway?
"Oh, so that makes it okay? I mean, sure, some people came back from Vietnam all fucked up, but they didn't all go shoot up their neighborhoods, did they?"
"I'm not saying it makes it okay—" Maureen started.
"You said mass murderers just snapped. I don't think that's always true. I think sometimes they're just as deeply fucked up as serial killers." Trevor was pretty adamant about this, which was weird, because Maureen had never met anybody else who knew about this kind of stuff or cared about it.
She nodded. "You're right. Gus Lee Perry was one sick puppy."
"Don't you have to be pretty sick to kill a whole bunch of people?" said Trevor.
Maureen nodded. "Sure. But I guess there are levels of sickness."
"Levels? Like what?" He paused. "Hey, you're not one of those girls who idolizes killers, are you? You aren't a pen pal with a bunch of guys in prison, or something?"
"No!" said Maureen. The force of her response surprised her.
"Okay," said Trevor, holding up his hands in surrender. "Sorry."
"I'm just saying that doing something once, like shooting a whole bunch of people, and doing something over and over, like killing someone and sodomizing his dead body, are fundamentally different on a psychological level."
Trevor shrugged. "Maybe. But you made it sound like you thought it was better to be a mass murderer than a serial killer."
"Not better," Maureen said. "Easier to understand, maybe."
"Oh come on," Maureen said. "Haven't you ever thought about doing it? Just blowing away everyone you hated?"
Trevor hesitated. He looked down at his untouched tray. "No."
"Thinking about it doesn't mean you're going to do it," said Maureen.
"I have," said Frances.
"Really?" said Maureen. That surprised her. Frances was not the violent type. She rarely even got angry, even when Maureen said really mean things to her.
Frances nodded. "Yeah. Sure. Sometimes, the way people treat me just gets to me. You'd think I'd be used to it by now, but sometimes I just get so angry. I think about doing something like that guy did at Madison, like we were talking about the other day."
"Robert Gordan," said Trevor. "You don't want to do what Robert Gordan did."
"You know his name," said Maureen. "Most people don't remember his name."
A look of alarm crossed Trevor's face. "Um, he had the same last name as me. I guess that's why I remember it."
"Yeah, I guess he did," said Frances. "How freaky. God, what if you were like related, you know, hundreds of generations back?"
Trevor shrugged. "That'd be weird."
All at once, the feeling that Trevor reminded her of someone rushed back at Maureen. He looked like—Damn. It had been on the tip of her tongue. Who was it?
"You seem to know a lot about mass murderers," said Maureen.
"I really don't," said Trevor. "I didn't even really know what they were called."
"Yeah, but you feel really strongly about it," said Maureen.
"I'm like that," said Trevor. "I come on really strong when I think things about stuff. I didn't mean to argue with you. I just do it for fun, really. Don't take it personally."
"I didn't. It's cool to talk to someone who cares," said Maureen.
"So you've thought about it," said Trevor. "About killing people?"
"In an abstract sense," said Maureen. "Sure. I wouldn't. But I've thought about it. Everyone has. It's natural."
"You think so?" Trevor asked. "Because I keep having these dreams."
"Hey girls," said a voice.
Maureen hadn't even noticed Jared French approaching them, but there he was. "Hi Jared," she said.
"Hey," he said, grinning. "Hey Trevor."
Trevor eyed Jared and nodded in greeting. He didn't say anything.
"Can I sit?" Jared asked.
"Sure," said Maureen. The end of the table was completely open, but Jared motioned for Maureen to scoot over, and settled in right next to her.
"You guys talking about dreams?" Jared asked.
"No," said Trevor.
"That's funny," said Jared. "Because I thought I heard you saying—"
"No," said Trevor.
"Cool," said Jared.
Wow. Trevor really didn't like Jared, did he? Maureen thought that was kind of strange.
"Maureen, you and Frances still up for playing pool with me next week?"
"What?" said Frances.
"Oh, I forgot to tell you," Maureen said. "I didn't think you were serious," she said to Jared.
"Of course I was," said Jared. "Trevor, you should come too."
"Thanks," said Trevor. "But I have plans. Um, I gotta go. I'll see you guys later." He got up and walked quickly away from the table.
"That new guy's kind of weird, huh?" said Jared.
"He's cool," said Maureen.
"He tried to sell me some pills," Jared said. "Maybe we should let somebody know about that. Like a teacher or something. It could be dangerous."
"No way," said Maureen. "How come you don't like him?"
"I don't know him," said Jared. "You seem to like him a lot."
"I don't really know him either," said Maureen.
"Well, he's cute," said Frances. "He's awful nice to look at."
"Right," said Jared. He looked at Maureen, a wounded look in his eyes. "Is that it, then? Are you his plans?"
"No," said Maureen. "I didn't—"
"Whatever," said Jared. "I get the picture. I'll back off." He stalked away from the table too.
Maureen made a face at Frances. "What the hell?"
"I think Jared likes you," said Frances. "I think Trevor might too. Maybe they'll fight over you like on Bridget Jones' Diary."
"Oh, good God, Frances," said Maureen. "Boys don't like me. It's just not the way my life works."
Frances just smiled, opening a package of Oreos.
After lunch, Maureen had history. That day, the class was working on a research report in the computer lab. They were supposed to be using the internet for source material. The report needed to have at least three internet sources and three hard copy sources, like books or magazines. Maureen already had her internet sources; it was the book sources she needed. She'd asked Mr. Peters if she could go to the library, but he said this was internet time. When she told him she had three internet sources already, he'd told her to look for more. They'd already spent a day at the library. It was Maureen's fault if she hadn't been in class that day.
So Maureen went back to her computer and tried to concentrate on her history report, which was about World War II. She just kept thinking about what they'd been talking about at lunch today. She didn't believe Frances for a second when she said that two guys liked her, but it was odd that Jared had acted the way he did, and he had sort of asked her on a kind-of, sort-of date. And she did have a crush on him, so why was she so disappointed at the prospect that he might like her?
She knew why. She liked Trevor now. Which was stupid. There was absolutely nothing wrong with Jared, and she should jump at the chance to actually have a boyfriend before graduating high school. But that’s all it was, really. A chance. Not a guarantee. Jared had definitely seemed...interested in her. Well, actually, Jared had seemed jealous of Trevor. The two really didn't seem to like each other. She told herself that she was crazy. Jared couldn't actually like her. No one liked Death Girl. But if he did... If he actually did, then...
Did she really want to be involved with a guy who got jealous over nothing?
The whole lunch hour had been strange. First of all, Trevor came and sat with them, which was weird in itself. But then he knew all this stuff about mass murder and was so cool to talk to. She hadn't talked to someone who had an opinion on the subject in...well, she never had. It was neat. She thought back over the conversation. He'd known about Gus Lee Perry and Robert Gordan. She supposed that there were other people who would recognize the names, but he seemed to know an awful lot for having the casual interest he claimed he had.
Especially the thing he'd said about Robert Gordan. What was it? "You don't want to do what Robert Gordan did." Something like that. And the way he'd reacted after she'd pointed out he knew Gordan's name. She could swear he knew something more than he was letting on. But why wouldn't he let on? Was he hiding something?
Suddenly, it was as if a puzzle piece slid into place. Where was Trevor from again? Ohio, right? Madison High School was in Ohio. But the town it was in wasn't called Madison. It had some weird name...Praxton! Trevor was from Praxton, Ohio. He'd probably gone to Madison High School. Not when Robert Gordan had shot up the school. Trevor would have been too young, then. He would still have been in middle school, but still. How weird. And no wonder he had such strong opinions about mass murder. He'd probably known some of the kids that had been killed. Hell, they could have been friends with his older brother, who'd died! Oh God. What if his brother had been killed in the school shooting? Jesus, she'd been going on about the whole issue without any sense of tact. He must think she was—
It hit her cold, like a punch in the stomach. She knew who Trevor reminded her of. Trevor reminded her of Robert Gordan. Because Trevor was Robert Gordan's little brother. She was sure of it. Some of the articles she'd read mentioned Robert's family. He had a younger brother. And Robert was his older brother who'd died. No wonder Trevor was on pills. Jesus, how do you deal with the fact your older brother was a psychopath who wanted to annihilate people?
Maureen covered her mouth with her hand, sitting back from the computer screen and shaking her head. It was too horrible. But it was true. Now that she'd realized it, she didn't know how she hadn't seen it all along. Trevor and his brother looked so much alike.
"Maureen?" said Mr. Peters. "You okay?"
"Uh..." she floundered, sitting forward. "The Holocaust was a terrible thing, Mr. Peters."
He nodded. "Yes it was, indeed."
"Did you know they used the Jews for scientific experiments?"
"Yes, Maureen, I did."
"Oh right. You would know, because you're a history teacher." She smiled at him and scooted back up to the computer screen. One thing was for sure. No one else could know who Trevor really was. The guy deserved to have a halfway normal life. Poor kid.
Frances was trying to remember why in God's name she was taking calculus. Maureen had opted out of math senior year. They'd both finished their requirements. Calculus wasn't one of them. It was just that Frances was usually good at math. She always had been. But calculus wasn't like regular math. It was different. It was hard, and Frances was seriously considering dropping the class.
Trevor was in calculus with her. That day he was sitting next to her. She guessed that was because he now considered her his friend. They'd eaten lunch together after all. They hadn't talked much though. He and Maureen had dominated the conversation. Frances was trying to be happy for Maureen, but really she was jealous. She'd seen Trevor Gordan first, after all. She knew she was too fat to have a chance in hell with him, but he was just so good looking. She thought he might be the most gorgeous guy who'd ever spoken to her in her life.
If only she could lose weight. She was pretty. She had a very nice face. If it weren't surrounded with rolls of fat, it would be attractive. She was going to have to do something about it, because she couldn't handle spending the rest of her life like this. She couldn't be fat forever. But she knew she couldn't diet. She'd tried it before, many times. It never worked. She didn't have the willpower for it. And exercising was a really great idea, but she found that every time she'd try to do it, she'd come up with really good excuses to put it off. She felt out of control. It was as if her body was conspiring against her, trying to keep her fat and miserable.
If Maureen had a boyfriend, she'd never see Maureen. Maureen wasn't the sweetest best friend in the world as it was. Maureen with a boyfriend certainly couldn't be an improvement. Basically, what it would mean was that Frances would be alone all the time. No more movie nights, no more cupcakes, hell, they'd probably stop eating lunch together. The thought hurt Frances, and without meaning to, her throat tightened and tears began to form in her eyes. No, she told herself. I'm not going to cry about nothing in calculus class. Because it wasn't anything. It was just her imagination. She didn't know if Maureen was going to get a boyfriend. And she didn't know if Maureen got a boyfriend, she'd abandon her. However, she had to admit, it seemed likely.
Frances stole a longing glance at Trevor. Why couldn't he like her? Despite being fat, she was way more normal than Maureen. Neither of them looked like everybody else, but Maureen didn't think like everybody else either. Maureen was just different. That's why no one liked her. She was just too odd for people to understand. Frances felt a twinge of guilt for thinking this way about her best friend. After all, Maureen was all she had. She couldn't afford to get angry with her. If she didn't have Maureen, she'd be really pathetic, and right now she was too pathetic for words.
Still, Maureen wouldn't even appreciate a boyfriend. She was incapable of being nice to anyone. If she had a boyfriend, she'd probably just drive him away. And while driving him away, she'd probably just blame the guy. Frances indulged herself in a pleasant fantasy of a heartbroken Trevor seeking comfort in her arms. "Maureen just doesn’t understand me," he'd say. "You're so understanding, Frances."
Frances sighed out loud. Trevor looked up at the sound. Frances felt her face get hot. Trevor looked at her. She looked away.
What was she supposed to be doing anyway? Oh yeah, calculus. They had twenty minutes to get a jumpstart on their homework. Frances forced herself to look at the book. She tried to read the next problem, but the numbers and words didn't seem to make any sense. She read it four times and still didn't comprehend it. Focus, Frances, she told herself.
That was when the spitball hit her on the cheek. Frances turned, reaching up to remove the wad of paper from her face. James Mitchell was lowering a straw from his mouth, an impish grin on his face. Frances stared at him. What an ass. While she was turned, Jared, who'd just transferred into this class from second period, put a straw into his mouth. Looking directly into her eyes, he blew. A wet wad of paper hit her square between the eyes. Frances' jaw dropped. How could Jared have done that to her? He was always nice to her.
Jared smiled lopsidedly, but the smile didn't reach his eyes. They bored into her, dark, menacing. Frances couldn't keep the shock and hurt out of her expression. To her horror, the tears that she'd built up began to spill out of her eyes and onto her cheeks.
"Awww," whispered James Mitchell loudly, "Fat Fwan's cwyin'."
Frances turned around in her seat, pulling the spitwad off her forehead. She tried to stop the tears, but they wouldn't stop. They streamed down her face in rivers. She looked down at her desk, her hair falling like a curtain around her face. She felt another spitball strike the back of her head, and in a few minutes one hit her neck. She knew they were getting stuck in her hair, but she didn't try to move them. She'd wait. She'd pretend she wasn't here. This wasn't the first time she'd had spitballs launched at her. It probably wouldn't be the last. The best thing to do was keep quiet. Eventually, they'd lose interest. After class, she'd go to the bathroom and try to extract them from her hair as best she could.
Another one hit her. It was wet, and she could feel the warm liquid on the back of her skull. She gritted her teeth, and the tears stopped. She wasn't sad anymore. She was angry. She flipped her head back and turned her head. Trevor was twisted around in his seat, whispering angrily at Jared. "Stop that," he was saying. "Leave her alone."
Frances looked at Trevor in awe and adoration. No one besides Maureen had ever stuck up for her before.
In response, James Mitchell hurled a spitball at Trevor. It caught him on the jaw. Trevor picked it off his face and stood up, his face going deeply red. "I can't believe you just did that," he said to James.
Trevor crossed the distance between them. Grabbed James by the collar. "If you ever—"
"Mr. Gordan," said Mrs. Reese, the calculus teacher. "You need to get back in your seat."
"Yeah," said James, grinning wildly at him.
"No comments are necessary, Mr. Mitchell," said Mrs. Reese.
"Dude just attacked me," said James. "I don't feel safe, Mrs. Reese."
Trevor let go of James' collar. "Later," he hissed, and went back to his seat.
Mrs. Reese looked back and forth between the two of them. "Ms. McCool, you didn't happen to see what happened, there, did you?"
Frances felt like shrinking into her seat. Why did Mrs. Reese always have to put her on the spot like this? She didn’t want to be class monitor. That was Mrs. Reese's job. "No," she said softly.
"What?!" Trevor exploded. "Those two morons were launching spit wads at her head."
Mrs. Reese raised her eyebrows. "Ms. McCool, is that true?"
Frances just shook her head.
"Some of them are still stuck in her hair," said Trevor.
"It's true," Frances said. "Trevor told them to stop, and then James spit one at Trevor."
"I see," said Ms. Reese. "Mr. Gordan, your actions are admirable, but in the future, when you see someone acting out, please inform me. Don't take matters into your own hands."
"Oh right, so you can do what? Glare them down?" Trevor demanded.
"I guess I'll be seeing all three of you in detention this afternoon then, then," said Mrs. Reese. "Mr. French and Mr. Mitchell will be cleaning my floor. Mr. Gordan, you'll be writing an essay on respect for authority."
Copyright (c) 2010 Valerie Chambers