#17: Mary Anne’s Bad-Luck Mystery

It’s lunchtime at Stoneybrook Middle School and Mary Anne, Logan, Kristy, Claudia, and Dawn are avoiding the hot lunch and discussing whether or not they’re going to go to the Halloween Hop. Kristy is like “ugh” but Mary Anne announces that she and Logan are going. She notices, however, that some girls at a nearby table (Cokie Mason, Grace Blume and their clique) are pointing at their table and snickering. Mary Anne assumes they’re laughing at Kristy because “she was wearing the same clothes she’d been wearing for the past seven weeks”. Kristy, though, thinks Cokie is staring at Logan.

On the way to that afternoon’s BSC meeting, Mary Anne gets a chain letter in the mail. She’s pretty spooked by it, because it says if she doesn’t send it on to twenty different people, “bad luck will be visited upon you, the recipient of this letter, and your friends and loved ones… harm will come your way”. But she still refuses to send it on (over Mallory and Jessi’s protestations) because then twenty people would be annoyed at her, and it would cost a lot to copy and mail all those letters. She ends up throwing the letter away.

The next morning Mary Anne falls out of bed. Then she bangs into her desk chair, and then can’t find her shoes, and then she spills orange juice all over her white dress. She gets to school and can’t open her locker, then realizes she forgot her math homework at home. She spills macaroni and cheese in the cafeteria. Overall, she’s mortified. She ends up snapping at Logan at lunch and storming off. Worst of all, she forgets about a baby-sitting job she has at the Newtons’ house and Mrs. Newton has to call her house to track her down. D’oh!

Dawn has a multi-accident baby-sitting job with Jackie and she briefly wonders if it could be the chain letter, but then she remembers that Jackie is always accident-prone. Still, the next day on her way to the BSC meeting Mary Anne gets a package in the mail, addressed in cut-out letters from magazines and newspapers:


And inside is a weird-looking necklace with a note:


Now everyone is truly freaked out. They start confessing bad things that have happened to them since Mary Anne threw out the chain letter, like failing tests, losing things, falling, etc. Mary Anne feels like she has to wear the bad-luck charm or more bad things will happen… so she does. And, of course, bad things keep happening: Jamie Newton falls down some stairs and skins his knee while Mary Anne is baby-sitting; there’s a fire in a trash can at school; an explosion in the science lab; an accident in gym class. The girls talk about it at lunch, causing Logan to ditch them for his guy friends and Cokie and her cronies to stare and laugh at them from another table. The BSC decides they need to figure out how to ward off evil spirits. Buffy-style, they head to the library, where they each check out a book about witches or charms or spells.

At Claudia and Mallory’s job sitting for all the Pike kids, everything goes wrong: Byron horribly burns the dinner they were all excited for, a sparrow comes down the chimney and flies around the living room, and then Vanessa loses a tooth to a sticky piece of candy, bleeding everywhere. Then Claudia and Mallory have to make eighteen tuna fish sandwiches to replace Daddy Stew (their dinner) and then the Pikes are an hour late getting home and Mallory freaks out, thinking her parents are dead somewhere (they’re just caught in freeway traffic and there are no cell phones in 1988).

The BSC holds an emergency meeting in Claud’s room, and while they’re reading books about witchcraft and spells, a thunder and lightning storm starts outside. They’re all spooked but they can’t find any reasonable spells to counteract bad luck. The atmosphere reminds Claudia of when they were solving the mystery of the Phantom Caller a year earlier, and how it ended with her going to the Halloween Hop with Trevor. This year she’s going with Austin Bentley, and Mary Anne is of course going with Logan. Claudia tells Mary Anne there are probably a lot of girls in eighth grade (like Grace Blume) who would kill to go to the dance with Logan and probably hate the whole BSC for taking up so much of his time. Mary Anne thinks this is just more bad luck… the lightbulb doesn’t go off over her head.

Mary Anne and Logan go to the dance as cats… modeled on the costumes from the musical Cats… sigh. Logan is literally p-word whipped. At the dance, Claudia and Mary Anne catch Grace and Cokie staring at them and whispering; later, Cokie and the guy she’s dancing with dance over to Mary Anne and Logan and do a switcheroo. Cokie says to Mary Anne, “Nice bad-luck charm… it really completes the outfit”. Mary Anne is annoyed but still, no lightbulb goes off over her head. And when she gets home from the dance, she finds a new note at her door:


Kristy calls another emergency meeting of the BSC at which the girls decide they have to show up at the cemetery, despite the fact that it’ll be midnight on a full moon Halloween. They devise a plan to say they’ll be at a late-night slumber party at Kristy’s. Charlie will pick everyone up around ten-thirty, and then drop them off at the cemetery just before midnight and wait for them there, after which they really will go to Kristy’s to sleep over.

“I’ve read enough Stephen King books to know that you don’t go fooling around with the supernatural.” – Mary Anne

Mary Anne’s dad agrees to let her go to Kristy’s party, and then takes a look at her bad-luck charm necklace. He informs her that it’s not a bad-luck charm, but instead it contains a mustard seed, which is a symbol of faith. Mary Anne is like, “wow, Cokie was dumb for believing it was a bad-luck charm” and then, finally, the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. How would Cokie know it was a bad-luck charm? None of the members of the BSC told her (or would even talk to her, for that matter). And then Mary Anne remembers that Claudia said Cokie’s best friend Grace has a crush on Logan. Duh! Duh! Duh! She calls Kristy to fill her in and they begin to concoct a revenge plan.

The girls string up ghosts made of sheets in the trees, then hide with masks and flashlights and a tape of spooky noises. When they hear voices – Grace and Cokie and a few of their friends – they start the spooky music and send the ghosts gliding down from the trees, and then pop up with their flashlights behind their masks and scare the shit out of Cokie’s clique. Then who should saunter up but Logan Bruno? Apparently he got a call to come to the cemetery and see something amazing… my guess is he was supposed to see Mary Anne crap her pants instead of Cokie. But alas, the BSC wins the war. Logan calls Cokie and Grace cowards. Grace admits they just wanted to make Logan see Mary Anne and co as babies and maybe notice some of the other girls at Stoneybrook Middle School. Logan stands by his woman. (Go Logan!) Only one thing goes unresolved… it becomes clear that, although Cokie & crew sent the “bad-luck charm” and the other notes, they didn’t send the chain letter. That part of it will remain a mystery…


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