Thursday, April 5, 2012
The Babysitter III
Jenny just wants to forget the man who murdered all the babysitters. The man who almost murdered her. He's dead now. And Jenny's gone to visit her cousin Debra. But Debra has a babysitting job. And now she's getting those phone calls, too. Just like the ones Jenny used to get: Hi, Babes. I'm back. Company's coming...
BABES. Just call me BABES. Anywho, Jenny has just taken a job at The Doughnut Hole in the mall for the summer even though she really doesn't wanna. Her mom just got laid off from her job as a legal secretary and Jenny will need to help out. Jenny, baby, $4 an hour just ain't enough...I don't think it was enough in 1993 (when this sucker was published) either. R.L. Stine has no concept of the working (wo)man's plight. Mr. Larson, Jenny's boss who resembles a big luscious doughnut himself, tells her to be there at 6:30 AM on Monday. Jenny practically vomits at the thought of having to be exposed to doughnuts all summer. "What a summer, Jenny thought unhappily. Staring at a wall of greasy doughnuts at six-thirty every morning." What the hell is wrong with her? I've got a heart full of doughnut love and I don't understand the repulsion.
As Jenny leaves the mall, she thinks about her horrifying past as a babysitter. To recap, a crazy man named Mr. Hagen tried to murder her, but he got his skull cracked open at the bottom of a rock quarry and died instantly. Anyway, Jenny comes across her friends Rick and Claire. Rick is pretending to be a bad ass in his METAL MANIACS T-shirt and Claire is a damn bumblebee (that's what you get when wear black leggings with a big yellow shirt. BUZZ.) Jenny whines about her new job and says the only good thing about it is that she's working morning shift so she'll be able to see Cal in the evenings. I'm assuming Cal is her crusty lipped flavor of the week. Rick runs off for an ice cream and as Claire and Jenny are waiting for him, Jenny spots a guy in a red windbreaker that looks an awful lot like Mr. Hagen even though he's supposed to be a mouldering corpse. Why the hell would a homicidal resurrected dead man wear a RED WINDBREAKER? Anyway, as Jenny stares on, the man pops the head off a baby doll. Jenny nearly soils her drawers because she thought it was a real baby. The guy actually stops to explain that the doll is defective so he's returning it to the toy store. Jenny is relieved to see that it isn't that dead guy that tried to kill her after all.
A few days later, Jenny stares in the mirror and thinks about how shitty she looks. Before she can annoy us any further, her mom pops in to tell her that Jenny won't be a doughnut handler this summer because she's going to stay with her cousin Debra and aunt Julia. Mom thinks Jenny is losing her damn mind and might need a little "rest". Jenny whines about how perfect and competitive Debra is and about how she won't be able to see Cal over the summer. MEMO: Shut the hell up.
Jenny agrees to go, though, and decides to gallop off to Cal's house to say goodbye (i.e. make out). She parks across the street from his house and as she's crossing, she hears someone lurking behind her. It's just some guy walking his dog and trying to give Jenny her bag which she dropped in the street in her rush to get away from this "murderer". A few moments later, Cal lets her in and Jenny tells him that she'll be gone for the summer. He says maybe he could come visit, but she shoots him down by claiming that she needs to be alone or something. And yet five seconds ago she was bitching about how to she wouldn't be able to see him for the whoooooole summer. This chick is daffy.
Meanwhile, cousin Debra is somewhere far away harassing some dude named Terry over the phone. I think she's attempting to be coy and cute, but she's coming across like a completely pathetic psycho. She keeps giggling and telling him to guess who it is. She also says she wants him, she's been watching him, and she's his secret admirer. After frustrating the hell out of the clueless Terry, she hangs up and laughs her ass off. Like her cousin, this girl has fudge for brains. Debra looks up and sees her creepy (is everyone in this book completely mental?) ex-boyfriend Don who apparently just can't get over her. Don politely let himself into her house so he could pout in the shadows and beg Debra to talk to him even though there's really nothing to say. Debra tells him to get out and he threatens to tell her new boyfriend Mark that she's been making weird and lusty phone calls to the forever confused Terry. After Debra throws a stuffed dog at him, Don grabs her and kisses her. Jenny show up, though, and Don quickly leaves. The girls catch up a little and Jenny is impressed that Debra has had three boyfriends since Jenny last visited. All of whom were worthless...their lips probably weren't even that dry. Then Debra's mother Julia comes in talking a mile a minute (but is she really saying anything? No.) Julia leaves and Debra says she's late for her job...as a babysitter. NOOOO! Jenny silently panics because Debra wants her to come along, but Debra insists it will be fun so Jenny puts her psychological issues aside to go with her stupid idiot cousin.
As Jenny and Debra walk to Mrs. Wagner's house, Debra complains about her annoying mother. She manages to shut up about that long enough to tell Jenny that Mrs. Wagner is divorced. So Jenny has no reason to be nervous about a Mr. Hagen look-a-like trying to cut her face off. Mrs. Wagner lets the girls inside and leaves for an evening class at the community college. "Don't get married too early. That's what I did. I never got to go to college. So now I have to do it two nights a week." Thank you, Mrs. Wagner. Debra is there to babysit little Peter who is asleep upstairs. The girls get Cokes (YES) and Debra flips on the porch light which is her signal to Mark that it's safe to come in. The girls sit in the living room (Mark is running a little late) and Debra coaxes Jenny to tell the story of Mr. Hagen. Jenny tells all including the plot of the second Babysitter book that I had completely forgotten about until now because it was so unbearably ridiculous. Jenny confesses that she still has nightmares about Mr. Hagen and sees him wherever she goes. She thinks he might still be alive. Apparently Jenny doesn't understand the mechanics of the human body. When your brains pour out of a gaping hole in your skull, YOU DIE. Jenny and Debra stop talking when they hear a cough and some scuffling in the kitchen. It's just some bloated old drunk chick named Maggie rather than a congested dead man. Maggie used to be Mrs. Wagner's housekeeper until she was fired. For some reason, Maggie still has a key to the house so she can come and stalk as she pleases. "I'm back." Yeah, you are. Now get the hell out. Maggie is too damn drunk to take my advice. Seriously, the old bag is wasted. "You can't just turn Maggie off like a faucet." Maggie eventually leaves after finding an old shopping bag she claims is hers and telling the girls that things disappear around here so they should probably get gone. Neither girl pays attention to Maggie (a most rusty faucet) and runs to answer the front door where Mark is waiting.
Mark is a hot, tanned lifeguard who doesn't take his job of GUARDING LIVES very seriously. "Mostly you just sit there. It's almost like watching TV. Except you blow a whistle a lot." You go into the pool...but you don't come out. Jenny mentions that she wants a summer job so she can buy shit and Mark says his dad's friend owns a riding stable and always needs help. He says Jenny could be a "wrangler", someone who helps the kids who come to ride. He never once asks if Jenny has any experience whatsoever with horses. Also, WRANGLER? What the hell is she wrangling? You insult the world with your existence, Mark. The conversation is over when Mark and Debra start kissing. Jenny decides to check on Peter instead of watching these two tongue wrestle. Jenny freaks out because she thinks Peter isn't breathing and screams for Debra. Debra picks him up, sees that he's still alive, and places him back in his crib. Jenny keeps crying and apologizing, Debra comforts her, and Mark has to flee because Mrs. Wagner's car just pulled up.
A few days later, Jenny is on the job at the riding stable. Her job is to put the kids in the saddle and send them on their way. They have a counselor (is this a camp? I don't know anything...) so why couldn't that person do this? Me thinks this job is a convoluted plot device to get Jenny into some sort of horror. Anyway, once the kids are off riding with their counselor, Jenny chats with Gary, a guy from Wyoming who's a REAL wrangler. Not impressed. Not in this town. Jenny does some horse stuff, thinks about some stuff, and as she's leaning against a fence rail (this is a JOB?), she spots a man on a horse riding closer. "Hi, I'm back." Yep, just a dead guy on his trusty steed.
The next night, Debra is on the phone with Mark, telling him about Jenny freaking out the day before because she thought she saw Mr. Hagen AGAIN. Debra hangs up when Jenny comes into the room and tells Debra about her day at the stable which was blessedly normal. Debra has to babysit and says she might call that guy Terry before she leaves. "I have to admit, I get pretty turned on by these calls. What does that say about me?" It says you're a dumb ass. Those calls are the unsexiest things on the planet and since that honor once went to my lopsided boobs, you can rest assured that I know what I'm talking about, woman. Debra decides it'll be so much more amusing if Jenny makes the call. Jenny doesn't want to, but she's a spineless rag and finally agrees. The call is short because Don told Terry it was Debra making the calls and he hangs up pretty quickly. Debra is embarrassed and leaves for Mrs. Wagner's house.
Mrs. Wagner rushes off after telling Debra that Peter is teething and if he gets fussy, just rub some rum on his gums. Don't worry--Peter's father is Captain Morgan so his blood is already 50% rum. Debra has a Coke (HER LIFE) and thinks about calling Jenny. But before she can, she receives a call: "Hi, Babes. It's Mr. Hagen. I'm alive. I'm back. Company's coming, Babes." Get your ass back in the grave where you belong, devil!
The next night, in between kisses in Mark's crappy car, Debra and Mark talk about the call and how Deb can't tell Jenny because Jenny already has one foot in the insane asylum and this will just send her over the edge. They talk about who the culprit could be and Mark admits to telling the Hagen story to some of his friends. He mentions telling TERRY so Debra assumes he made the call to get back at her. The next night, Debra confronts Terry at the Dairy Freez where he works, but of course Terry didn't make that call. Debra is disappointed...then she thinks about how cute Terry is and tries to set him up with Jenny. He says he'll think about it. There's nothing to think about: SAY NO. Poor stupid Terry...
On Friday night, Debra, Mark, Jenny, and Terry (who obviously has no brains at all) go to the movies and to a coffee shop afterward. When Debra and Jenny get home, they see something pale lying in the bushes. It turns out to be a baby doll, but Jenny was convinced it was Peter's lifeless body poking out of the bushes. The little doll comes with a little note: "Hi, Babes. I'm back. See you real soon. Mr. Hagen" Inside the house, the girls go up to Debra's room where Jenny proceeds to cry that it's really Mr. Hagen this time. It doesn't matter that his head barfed out his brain in that rock quarry! He's ALIVE! Not. Debra tells her that it's just a joke and it's probably directed at her, not Jenny, because someone called her at Mrs. Wagner's. Debra says it's got to be some crazy creep playing a sick joke because the dead don't come back to which Jenny replies "Don't they? Don't they, Debra?" Seriously, why isn't someone getting her some help? Her brain is more broken than Mr. Hagen's ever was. Debra asks if Jenny told anyone from home that she was coming here and she mentions Cal. Debra thinks he could be the caller and makes Jenny call him. She does and Cal's mother tells her that he ran away. Of course he did.
At the stables, Jenny comes across Cal. He pulls her onto a horse with him, they gallop off, and suddenly his skin falls off and she's riding with a skeleton named Mr. Hagen. "At last I'm going to take you to the grave with me!" No you're not. Because this is all a dream.
Monday night, Debra is at Mrs. Wagner's, waiting for Mark to show up. She's about to call Jenny when she hears a noise upstairs and goes to investigate. It's just the baby tossing in his sleep. He settles down and Debra goes back downstairs where she calls Mark who is totally pissed. He found out about her calls to Terry and when she tries to explain it was a joke, he hangs up on her. Then "Mr. Hagen" calls. "It's Mr. Hagen, Debra. I'm alive. And I'm coming for you. Real soon." Debra thinks it's Mark, but she also thinks the voice sounds as if it's coming from far away...from BEYOND THE GRAVE! Mwahahaha! "I'll be there. Wait for me, Debra. Wait for me. I've come from so far away to get you." She screams and throws the phone down which wakes Peter. She holds him until he falls asleep again. She goes back downstairs to find freaking Maggie rooting around in the cupboard. Maggie is drunk again and insists that SHE'S the babysitter. Eventually she leaves after telling Debra "I'll come back for what's mine." Later, Mrs. Wagner says she'll change the locks, but I doubt it. I think Mrs. Wagner likes allowing a crazy wino into her home to roam like a free grazing goat.
That night, Debra is awakened by Jenny's screams of terror. She had another nightmare. Debra's parents run in, but they go back to bed after Jenny insists she's fine. Debra tells Jenny she got another phone call last night which just leads Jenny to start all over again with her claims that Mr. Hagen is alive. GAHHH!
At the stables the next day, Jenny doesn't put a saddle on correctly and Gary yells at her. She's distracted by thoughts of Cal. Jenny goes on a break just as thunder and rain start in. She decides to go for a ride on a horse she just named...Thunderclap. On the trail, another rider is behind her and she flips out because she's certain it's Hagen. "I know it's Mr. Hagen. Coming to collect me." Jenny, please, just SHUT UP.
That evening, Debra is babysitting again. She calls home and her mom tells her Jenny still isn't home. They assume she went somewhere with Gary. They never once think she's riding hysterically through the woods in a thunderstorm trying to get away from a dead man on a horse. Hm. Debra calls Mark's house and his mom says he's out. Debra thinks it's weird that he'd be out in this storm so she gets herself a Coke. Because Coke is medicine. Coke doesn't hurt you. Coke just wants to be inside you. Uh...never mind. Anyway, the phone rings, but it's just a wrong number. Debra is feeling paranoid and thinks she hears footsteps upstairs. Then Mrs. Wagner calls and says she'll be a little later than usual. Hoo rah. At 11:00, Debra goes upstairs to feed Peter. She notices that the front door is ajar and convinces herself that Mrs. Wagner simply forgot to close it. In Peter's room, she finds the crib empty. She panics, notices wet footprints on the floor, and rushes downstairs to call the police. Good job, Debra. Usually the idiots in these books try to solve problems themselves without realizing they're too stupid to do so. Unfortunately, the cops are usually just as dumb, possibly dumber. Debra runs downstairs and finds a soaking wet Cal who apologizes for letting himself in but he's looking for Jenny (how did he know to come here?). Debra explains about the baby and asks for his help. Predictably, the phone is dead so the two run next door to use the phone. A couple lets them in, Debra calls 911, and screams "A dead man stole the baby!" Dammit, Debra.
Later, Mrs. Wagner and the cops are at the house and Debra thinks about the fact that Jenny's nightmare is coming true. Speaking of Jenny, no-one knows where she is. Debra actually mentions Mr. Hagen to the police who think she's insane. Mrs. Wagner is afraid Maggie took Peter and is pissed at Debra for not making sure the door was locked even though Maggie has a key and SOMEONE never changed the locks. The phone rings a moment later and the cops tell Debra to answer it. "I got rid of Jenny and I have the baby. Now do you believe me, Babes? Now do you believe I'm really back?" Debra tells everyone she knows where this freak is so they all leave. She leads them to the stables because she's pretty sure that Jenny is behind all this. And she is. Jenny comes out of the barn on a horse. She has a crying Peter in her arms and keeps talking in her Mr. Hagen voice. "I'm not Jenny! I'm Mr. Hagen and I'm back!" Wow. "I'm alive! I'm back from the grave! And I have my baby!" Lightning cracks and scares the horse that Jenny is on and she falls, still holding the baby. (Debra thought the cops shot her.) The rain stops, the baby is safe, and Jenny is presumably hauled away to spend the rest of her life in a padded cell.
Conclusion?: This is some tasty (although slightly moldy) cheese.
Next time: "All-Night Party" Back to the land of murdering teens! (Also, why is "All-Night" hyphenated?)