A high school student finds a grimoire that shows how to make magical disguises.
|Previously: "Grifting the Marc"
A couple of times, as you wait for Katy, your hand will snake over to the mask of Marc Garner, which rests atop the pile of clothes near at hand. And each time you draw it back as though stung.
I would have a better chance of standing up to Katy, you tell yourself, if I was dressed up in those things. But it's a thought that puts your back up. How come I have to turn myself into another guy just to have a heart-to-heart with my girlfriend about whatever she's up to?
Pride finally wins out, and it's with a defiant look on your own face that you turn when the basement door opens and Katy comes in.
But it's not Katy. She's still dressed up like Stephanie.
"What are you still dressed up like that for?" she peevishly demands when she's advanced far enough through the gloom to make out that you're still yourself and not Marc. "I thought I told you—"
"You haven't told me anything, Katy," you rebuke her. "And I'm not doing anything until you do."
She stares at you, then rolls her eyes. "Fine," she sighs. "It'll be eight before we can head over to Megan's anyways. Well, before you head over to—"
"You've got some scheme going. What is it?"
She hesitates, and looks very pinched.
Then she collapses.
"Just go along with me, Will," she quietly pleads. "It's for everyone's good."
* * * * *
The story she relates dismays and bewilders you. But you have admit, when she's done, that you also feel sympathy.
Not for Katy, though, for it's not her own story she's shared. It's Stephanie's story. It turns out the girl really does have feelings and not just muscles.
It starts with the fact that Stephanie has had a crush on Marc Garner for at least three years now. She grew up knowing him—she was constantly at Eva and Jessica's house, and so their bratty brother was always underfoot and making their playtime miserable—but somewhere about the time she was fourteen Stephanie suddenly got very hot for him. Trouble was, his feelings hadn't changed toward her: She was still just the tomboy who used to come over to his house to play with his sisters, and who once chased him down the street and beat her fists into his stomach when he messed up one too many of their play dates. Oh, they had gotten to be "friends" in the meantime, but only in the way that kids who used to pull each other's hair get to be friends after they're too old to pull each other's hair anymore.
Marc had a girlfriend for a couple of years, but then she moved away, and that's when Stephanie saw her chance. All summer between their junior and senior years she had been maneuvering to get herself into Marc's sights, and to get him to start thinking of her as the kind of girl that maybe he'd like to date. Little things, like dropping in to see Eva and Jessica when she knew for a fact that the girls weren't home. Accidentally running into Marc while he was out jogging. Butt-dialing him just before bedtime.
Oh, Stephanie was very subtle about it.
She was so subtle that, a few days after she entered Westside, Marc was going around with Hannah Westrick instead.
And that is how come Stephanie has it in for Hannah. Because there is literally no one else at Westside that Stephanie would even look twice at—it's Marc Garner or no one. Meanwhile, Hannah is known for getting shit-faced drunk off a single beer and making out with the entire Eastman High School boys' tennis club. How is it fair that a girl like that should hook up with the only guy that Stephanie cares about? Is there no justice in the universe?
Katy didn't know any of this. No one at school does, for Stephanie has told no one. Her crush on Marc Garner is her deepest and most personal secret, and one she is paranoid about letting slip. She would die of humiliation if it ever got out.
But Katy found out after getting into Stephanie's mask. And her reverence for Stephanie is such that now she is determined to help Stephanie gain her deepest wish.
Katy doesn't want to hurt or humiliate Hannah. She just wants to break Hannah and Marc up, and to break them up in a way that will cause Marc to fall into Stephanie's waiting arms.
Because, she explains to you, isn't that what one friend would want for another?
And, she adds, wouldn't you like to help out? Because you're Katy's friend, and wouldn't you like to help Katy?
* * * * *
This is all very mortifying, of course, even if it's interesting to learn that Stephanie has actual feelings. But you put off Katy/Stephanie's question—You will help us out, won't you, Will?—with one of your own. What the fuck is Katy's actual plan?
Stephanie and her friends—who have their own reasons for detesting Hannah Westrick—have a cruel trick planned for her tonight, at Megan's party. Katy was going to help, but now she thinks that's a bad idea. It'll get Marc pissed off at them, and then there goes any chance that he and Stephanie will ever get together. No, her plan is to get Marc away from the party, so that he won't be there when it happens. Instead, it will be a fake Marc Garner there with Hannah, and the fake won't show any sympathy to Hannah. Instead, he'll be interested in Stephanie, which will piss Hannah off and maybe she'll break up with him right then and there.
And why won't Marc be at Megan's party, even though Hannah will be?
"I got it all set up with him at the park after you left," she explains. "That's how come I had to show up there like—" She points at her—Stephanie's—face. "I told him, uh—" She grimaces with embarrassment. "I told him I chased you off, Will. That I came out to meet Katy, and I saw you perched over him like a ghoul or something, and I chased you off."
"Oh, Jesus," you mutter.
"It'll be okay," she says. "I'll make it okay with him. But I said I chased you off, and then I stayed and talked to him. Made him see, like, that I'm— That Stephanie is really into him. Talked about old times. Hanging out with Eva and Jessica, and him, when they were kids." She turns a little pink.
"Yeah, but when he comes looking for me, to punch me out for—"
"I told you, that's not going to happen. Marc's not like that. He's not like ... Lloyd!" She visibly shudders. "Anyway, it's not like you're really friends with him. You and him are—"
"Oh, that makes me feel better!"
"Look, you'll get it, man," she retorts, "after you've—"
Then her face falls. "Oh, wait," she says, and all the color leaves her cheeks. "Shit."
"What's wrong?" You feel a spark of hope that her plan may yet fall apart without your having to actively sabotage it.
"I was going to say, you'll understand after you've got Marc's mask on. That he's not the kind of guy who—" She swallows. "But you're not gonna have time to learn any of that."
She gives you a look. "Because you're not going to have his memories! Look how much time it took me to get Stephanie's!"
"Oh. Damn," you say. "That's right. Then I guess we won't be able to—" But you break off as Katy starts pacing the basement with her hands on her hips. She's got one of Stephanie's patented "don't fuck with me" expressions, but her eye is turned inward.
She stops in mid-pace to glare at you. "You couldn't fake it through the party as Marc, could you?"
"I don't think so," you lie. Based on your experience with Cathy Schell's mask—which you still have hidden somewhere in the basement—you're pretty sure you could get Marc's memories and personality right away. "Besides, you still haven't told me how you were going to get Marc away from the party."
"Oh, I set that up with him already, out at the park." Katy dismisses your objection with a wave of her hand. "I said I'd meet up with him early, before the party. Shit!" She pulls out her cell phone to check the time. "And I'm going to be late for that if I don't get a hustle on. And if I don't make that—"
She tenses all over, staring off into space, and the moment seems to hang and freeze. You hold your breath, waiting for her to conceded that the game is up.
Then it's like a nerve has snapped inside her head. She relaxes all over, and her gaze is very clear when she turns to you.
"You have to try, Will," she says. "For me."
"I don't think I can."
"Then I'll just have to take Marc off by myself," she says. "He can't be there when they play that gag on Hannah. It'll ruin it forever for him and Stephanie if he's there."
"He'll hear about it anyway," you remind her. "And he'll wonder how Stephanie managed to be in two places at the same time."
"And that's how come you have to go to the party as him," she insists. "So you can get Stephanie out of there. You go to the party and then you pull Stephanie out and take her off where, you know, it's just—"
It startles you when you see it in her eyes: the flash of jealousy. She's asking you—her boyfriend?—to take Stephanie away from the party and ... flirt hard with her?
And now you feel pinned. For as much as you don't want to get involved in this really spastic plan of hers ... and as much as you don't want to hurt her feelings by going off to make out with another girl ... you do want to help her out.
And helping her out by getting into a sweaty clinch with Stephanie Wyatt—the real girl—would be a bonus.
That's all for now.