Sunday, March 14, 2010

Last Chance, or "Do Not Do What the Bad Man Says"

Last Chance is a book that highlights why I love/loathe Fear Street books. I spent most of my time reading this book screaming “What the f-!” at it, then settling down and shaking my head at it. Seriously.
The teaser is: Mr. Morley is so nice when he catches Mary O’Connor stealing a test. He doesn’t tell. He doesn’t fail her. She just has to do him a favor …

Don’t do it Mary! Do not touch the bad man, just call the police, and everything will be okay.

Except that Fear Street is not an after-school special. The messages that come out of these books are both awful and awesome at the same time. Let’s see how Mary deals with her little “predicament.”
As you might remember, Mary O’Connor is the poor white trash girl who’s father walked out on her family, and then her boyfriend, Gary Fresno, dumped her for rich Trisha Conrad. You think that Mary might deserve a break about now, but instead she gets busted for shoplifting. Now she has to see a counselor every week, and all of her teachers have been told about her incident, and discriminate against her because of it.

I’m sorry, does this seem a little unprofessional? Perhaps even … unethical. Are teachers allowed to gossip about student’s sticky fingers, and openly judge her based on this. Considering the amount of teenage murderers in Shadyside, you think they’d let one incident of shoplifting slide.

Even Mary feels like she’s a criminal and should be treated as such. Her friend Stacey tries to get her to lighten up, takes her out shopping so that she gets over this stigma. Mary immediately almost steals a shirt. But it’s not because she’s dumb, it’s because she saw a cute boy! Okay, and because she is over the top stupid.

Mary has been spending a lot of time with Mr. Morley, her social studies teacher. He is just so understanding, and they talk about all kinds of things, not just school! Like, boys and stuff. Dear god, man, set some boundaries you pervert. Anyways, Mary is stressed about her upcoming social exam – she needs to pass it to stay on the track team, pretty much the only thing that she’s good at in life.
Mr. Morley is so understanding that he tells Mary that the social exams are all in this brown envelope on top of the desk, then he leaves her alone in the classroom to go get coffee. Mary can’t believe her luck! I can’t believe she wouldn’t think that she’d be set up. Morley comes back in, and Mary thinks he might have seen her, but he acts all friendly normal, so it must be okay. Now, maybe Mary does need to be treated for her property-taking issues, not only does she do it a lot, but she’s really bad at it.

Mary believes she aces the social exam, but instead of that A, Morley asks to see her after class. Oops! He tells her he knows she stole the exam, but she’s also under a lot of pressure, so he might be able to overlook it. If she does something for him …

It’s not as bad as you think. He wants her to take another teacher’s jacket, as he says it’s his anyways. So, he’s encouraging her thieving ways? Maybe he’s just trying to help her get better at it. To no avail, though. The teacher who’s jacket she’s stealing, Mr. Wise, catches her red-handed, and throws her shoplifting experience into her face. He says first thing Monday morning, the principal will hear of this. Oh, no, not the principal! Mary should probably chill out more.

Instead, she goes to Morley’s house on Fear Street over the weekend, sure that he’ll help her out of her situation. At his house she sees the cute guy from the mall, Rob. He’s helping Morley out with stuff around the house. He asks Mary out, then tries to warn her about Morley, when the man himself comes in. Morley is insanely mad at Rob, asking him to leave.

Then Morley turns to Mary, all concern and understanding again. Of course he’ll discuss the situation with Mr. Wise, making everything okay for Mary, but he tells her he’ll probably be fired for it. Mary is horrified. Morley also tells her that another teacher, Mrs. Wilson, is trying to get him fired. She’s written a letter about him to the Board of Education, but he can’t answer the charges if he doesn’t know what they are. If only someone could break into her desk to get that letter … But no, he couldn’t let Mary do that! He’ll just figure something out for himself.

Mary goes out with Rob that weekend. They have a great time, until he tells them they’re taking the “walking discount.” They dine and dash, and Mary kind of goes along with it, although it upsets her. Mary is so very easily manipulated. Rob then tells her it was a joke, and gives her a soft, melting kiss.
Monday morning Mary goes to see Morley to make sure everything’s been straightened up for her. Morley sighs and tells her she’s okay, but he’s screwed if he doesn’t get that letter. Then he gives her some puppy dog eyes and tells her he could never ask her to steal that letter for him.

Mary, being unspeakably dumb, breaks into Mrs. Wilson’s classroom and steals the letter for him. Whatever is written in those letters makes Morley hugely angry. He tells Mary there’s more letters, probably hidden in Mrs. Wilson’s house. Mary has to steal those letters too. When Mary balks, he tells her he’ll sell her out for stealing the jacket, and cheating on her exam. Not so nice Morley any more. He uses the phrase: “Jail is an ugly place.” How charming. Threaten an impressionable young girl with jail, I like it.

That night Mary goes to Mrs. Wilson’s house, having been given her address and the time she would be at a conference from Morley. How thoughtful of him. Rob shows up to stop her, and when he can’t, he goes in with her.

They find the letters, and Mary skims them. Essentially, Mrs. Wilson has proof that Morley murdered two of his students at his last job. And she’s sitting on this information why?

Mrs. Wilson comes home early. As they dash out the second floor window, they split up. Rob tells Mary to meet him at a park, so she runs there and waits. But the only person who shows up is Morley. Rob was nabbed by the cops, and had called Morley to bail him out.

But Morley won’t do that until Mary does something else for him. Mary didn’t keep the letters, so he’s pissed, and grabs her arm painfully. He tells her that Rob will stay in jail unless she comes to his office at lunch tomorrow. He also threatens to kill her like the other two students.

His new insane assignment for Mary involves his sister. His sister lives with her two children, but is always going on dates and leaving the youngsters alone. Morley wants to teach her a lesson by having Mary kidnap the kids, taking them to a house down the street until their mother comes home, freaking out. What a charming lesson!

Mary has heard enough. She goes to talk to her counselor, the one who can’t get over that one time she shoplifted, and tells her everything. The counselor sympathetically tells Mary she’s a terrible person for blaming her problems on Mr. Morley. Great support they have at Shadyside High, there. I guess since they usually deal with grief, loss and post traumatic stress, abducting children probably doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.

So Mary goes to steal the children. She feels really bad, and the kids are cute, so it’s just like she’s babysitting them in a strange house. It’s kinda all good until the seven year old boy tells her he doesn’t have an uncle, and had never heard of this Morley character. That’s when Mary hears the police sirens, and she cuts and runs.

She finally stops running, and who should appear but Rob, who starts kissing her. Apparently Morley made good on the bail, but that didn’t endear him to Rob. Rob is sure that Morley is going to kill them, now that they know his “being a murderer” secret. So they’ll have to kill him first!

Mary is skeptical about this killing idea, but Rob says there’s no other way, they’ll be under Morley’s control forever if they don’t. He gives her a vial of poison, odorless, tasteless and clear, that will kill him instantly if she gets just a few drops in his coffee. What a handy thing to be carrying around. Mary tells him she can’t do it, but he won’t hear any of it. He says he’ll meet her in Morley’s office tomorrow.

Morley calls Mary that night to threaten her, because she screwed up with the kidnapping kids thing. He tells her to meet him at his office at one tomorrow.

Poor little Mary. Whatever will she do?

The next morning she goes to track practice, something she’s been sucking at since all her problems started. Today, though, she kills it, and is starting to think she just might be able to deal with everything. She goes to Morley’s office, but earlier than he asks, because track was let out early. He’s not there, but his coffee is sitting temptingly on his desk. She didn’t bring the poison with her today. But then she sees Morley’s notebook on the desk, and reads it. It documents everything that has been done to Mary, how he enjoyed manipulating her life. Mary figures that Morley has to pay.

She runs home and back as quickly as possible. Morley still isn’t there. She empties the contents of the vial into his coffee, then goes to the girl’s restroom to be sick. Then goes back to face Morley.
He is in the classroom this time. Mary hesitates at the door, praying that he’ll drink the coffee. He does, downing the whole thing, then tells Mary that he’s going to brew some more coffee while she thinks about what she owes him. Then he gets all sweaty and woozy, and collapses to the floor.
Mary takes his notebook and stashes it in her bag, then waits for Rob to arrive. He comes in, all smiles. He’s all like – wasn’t this wild? Morley told you everything, hey? Mary grimly smiles and tells him she knows everything. Rob comes over and finishes off the rest of Morley’s coffee, which is, ew.

Rob explains that is was all a psychological experiment, to see how a student would respond under extreme pressure – whether they could get someone to kill someone else. It was all a part of Morley’s research, and everyone was in on it except Mary.

So, there are so many what the fuck things wrong with this. Morley is a social studies teacher at a shitty high school, not working in a phD department. What the fuck kind of research is this. There is no end to the unethical and illegal behaviours that Morley and Rob engaged in with this “research.” I mean, Rob is over 18, and fucking around with the subject. He should be in jail, or something.
Apparently, Mary agreed with me. Rob starts to sway on his feet, and he’s like – wait, I didn’t give you poison. It was water. Wtf? And Mary tells him she wasn’t going to kill them, until she came to the class early and read about the experiment in Morley’s notebook. And decided that both of them should die. So she ran home to grab some poison her mother keeps in the house. (Wtf, why does her mother have poison in the house?) She shows Rob Morley’s body, and tells him goodbye as he collapses.

Stacy comes in to the classroom, as her and Mary are going shopping, and screams when she sees the two bodies. Mary’s all smiles when she tells her that she just spiked their coffee with hard-core sleeping pills her mom uses. They’ll wake up in a little bit, but they’ll know not to fuck with her again.

Is that what we would call “street justice?” Not that I don’t think the boys deserved a little death scare, but I still think they should be in jail. Kudos to Mary for growing a pair, and not letting people fuck her around any more. She should also go over to skeezy ex Gary while she’s at him and kick him in the balls, just while she’s on this roll. No kudos to R. L. for giving me one of these “comedic” Fear Streets where not only did no one die, but no one was even crazy, stalked, or thought they were a ghost. Better try next time. 14 crazy-ass-strong sleeping pills out of 25.


megan s said...

i remember reading this book but i'm pretty sure it had a different cover!

Anonymous said...

She should've given them real poison. This is a very disturbing story.

Chad Walters said...

As the brother of a high school English teacher, I've heard plenty of stories about teachers gossiping and judging students (although not acting on that prejudice). It's not that farfetched.

Sharon said...

@Anonymous 11:53 - agreed. that was fucked up.

RecallerReminder said...

Hahaha this was a pretty good twist actually! I just wonder what happen to the main character after this, since she doesnt show up of is even mentioned anymore. Guess she has to quit school or was arrested.