Let's recap the action so far, shall we? Yeah, nothing. Okay, moving on...
Chapter eleven! Stacey is so tired she can't concentrate in Math class that day. In gym class, a volleyball bounces right off her face as she stares into space thinking about ghosts and such. At lunch, she and Dawn eat "fruit, milk, and plain cheese sandwiches" which also sounds like horrible food for a diabetic. They go to their usual cult table, and Stacey tells them all the details of her dream.
Kristy, in what has got to be one of the all-time Kristiest lines in the entire canon, says they've got to get to the bottom of this. "“Is there really something going on at that house? It sounds like it might be very dangerous. There are a lot of kids living in that neighborhood. What if something happened to one of them? I hereby call an emergency meeting of the Baby-sitters Club!”
Yes. Kristy Thomas, stepdaughter of a Real Live Millionaire, is going to call an emergency meeting of the Baby-sitters Club to find a way to protect the children of Stonybrook from being injured by vengeful fire-wielding Native American ghosts. Maybe she'll propose having Charlie ordained a Catholic priest, which would surely break Janine's heart, and then having him appointed exorcist so he could come to the house and dispel the spirits. Or maybe she'll just read L. Frank Baum to the ghosts until they're so disgusted they go haunt his ancestral home instead.
Mary Anne says that the house reminds her of the time Dawn dragged her out to see Pet Cemetery, which my ebook spells as Pet Semetary. Having not seen the movie I can't comment, but it can't possibly have LESS action than this book so far, or it would have had to come with a warning not to watch it while operating heavy machinery.
All the sitters decide to come to the emergency meeting except for Jessi, who can't come because she's black and has a ballet class.
Stacey feels better knowing all her wacko friends will be together after school. She brings Charlotte along, who's starting to feel like a real member of the club!
Kristy calls the meeting to order with all due pomp and circumstance. She asks the sitters to recap everything that they know so far. It would have saved my faith in humanity if one of them had stood up and said "Jack squat," but no such luck. Stacey supplies an answer. “We know that there are some very weird things happening there,” I said, “and that the house has – or the spirits of the people buried beneath it have – some kind of power.”
Okay, Stace, I'll allow for one strange thing (the fire shooting out the window). Other than that: you've got a face at a window, the scraping of metal, a voice moaning and some flies. That's all. You have no evidence of power whatsoever.
Claudia, who is sitting on her bed blowing gum bubbles that match her tie-dyed t-shirt dress, says the house has the power to drive people crazy. I'm going to let that go without comment. But then Claudia reveals that she went to the house by herself earlier today, and had the strangest feeling... it was as if someone had touched her arm, but when she turned around, no one was there.
Stacey is grateful that such a chilling experience never happened to her.
Claudia says she ran, in case the entity who touched her wanted to "steal her soul." Or possibly bitch slap her for her disgraceful fake Native American attire.
Mallory then opens her trap for the first time, so you know it's going to be lame... she says that a few years ago, she and Vanessa picked some flowers for her mother from the old garden beds by the house. That night, she had a dream that hands reached out of every window in the house, demanding the flowers be given back. And that's it. Nothing happened. Her mother didn't wither away, no one turned into a shrubbery, nothing. Clearly, the house is possessed by an unclean spirit and the children of Stonybrook are in danger.
Kristy cautiously says that she showed the old map to Watson, and he says it's only a map of a part of Stonybrook, so maybe the house really isn't built on the most sacred spot of a Native American burial ground after all. Claud says she found a map too, at the library, but she could be wrong as well.
Then Charlotte mentions that it doesn't necessarily matter about the burial ground, because the strange happenings are... happening anyway, to all of them. Everyone stops and admires Charlotte for her wisdom.
This is too much for the group. Kristy, Charlotte, Stacey and Claud volunteer to go to Stonybrook Manor and visit old Mr. Hennessey, who owned the house.
Chapter Twelve! And now things get legit scary: it's a Pike-sitting chapter. Someone hold me.
The little aberrations eat peanut butter and bologna sandwiches for dinner and torment Nicky and put on a truly odd play of The Wizard of Oz and none of it has anything to do with the plot. When Dawn gets home, she's glad to be in a quiet house. As am I.
Chapter thirteen! Stacey, Claud, Charlotte and Kristy go to see Old Mr. Hennessey at Stonybrook Manor. Stacey keeps reminding Charlotte that she doesn't really have to come along. "Was I getting so involved in the mystery that I was becoming an irresponsible baby-sitter?"
1) There IS NO FRELLING MYSTERY.
2) No, Stacey, you became an irresponsible baby-sitter some time ago. Taking her to visit strange old men in order to exorcise the spirits of dead Native Americans isn't really going to change that.
3) Apologies for devolving into bullet points so often, folks, but it's really the only way I can get through.
Anyway, the sitters arrive at the nursing home and AMM takes pains to tell us that it's a nice-looking building. Claudia walks up to the desk and politely asks to see Old Mr. Hennessey, which impresses the receptionist so much that she sends a nurse to fetch him right away. Stacey can tell that Claudia is using her knowledge of Nancy Drew books to help with the investigation... though if you need to read Nancy Drew to learn how to introduce yourself and ask to see Old Mr. Hennessey, I don't really know where that leaves you. They all make a big deal out of signing the guest register. Claudia uses her own pink pen, which makes Stacey want to giggle with delight. Great emphasis is put on this detail as if it's important, but it's never mentioned again.
Old Mr. Hennessey, a wizened man who leaves Stacey mildly repulsed by his oldness, is wheeled out presently. He doesn't seem pleased to see the sitters until they start asking questions about his old house. Then his eyes twinkle. He tells them the tale of Old Rubbernose, a ghost who's haunted the house since he was a boy. Rubbernose was shunned by women and children because of his prosthetic proboscis, and wanders the afterlife looking for a woman who will love him. Claudia shudders, thinking of the hand on her arm.
Then Old Mr. Hennessey tells the story of a redheaded woman in green velvet who enticed his uncle once, only to disappear at the end of the hallway. I don't know why they didn't try to set her up with Rubbernose, personally. There was also an old man who carried his own head around. Doesn't everybody? And there was an attic door that wouldn't close, which was totally due to a ghostly haunting as well.
Old Mr. Hennessey finishes by saying that the spirits are restless because Stonybrook was built over their ancient burial ground, which makes the sitters sit up and take notice. I'm a little confused because the ghosts described are NOT ANCIENT AMERICAN, they're kind of obviously Civil-War era white people. Ancient Americans would have to be Native American, and pre-colonial Native Americans didn't usually wear velvet or have red hair or use rubber noses. So apparently Stonybrook was build over Native American burial grounds and the Native Americans couldn't give a shit (perhaps because they were dead), but then a white people cemetery was built over that. And then, since by all accounts the old house is civil war era or older, apparently the Hennesseys went ahead and built a brand new house over very fresh graves that had been filled earlier in the afternoon. And the white dead people were pissed. Or something.
Then Old Mr. Hennessey says that the spirits of Rubbernose et al were angry that a house was built over them instead of letting them rest under the sky, and they're going to be even more angry when a set of condos go up. He promises there will be scary action at tomorrow's demolition, kids!
"Just be careful," he tells the sitters gravely.
It's Demolition Day!!!! Stacey was going to make Charlotte stay home in case of ghosts, but then she sees crowds of people heading to the demolition as if it's a circus. They decide to go check it out.
At the demolition site, Nicky is torturing Claire, Jenny is wearing a pretty dress and being shamed for it, and so forth. Charlie and Sam drive up with Kristy.
The last of the workmen come stumbling out of the house, and the demolition begins.
As the second story is brought down via wrecking ball, Stacey's mind begins to wander. Suddenly, though, she sees a chilling sight: the first floor bursts into flames!!! There are flames everywhere!!! Stacey can totally see Old Mr. Hennessey reaching out to her, begging for help!!!! Everyone else is just standing around, looking bored!!!!1!
Stacey suddenly realizes that she's the only one who can see the house burning down-- and with that, the fire and Old Mr. Hennessey disappear.
Stacey dumps Charlotte with Claudia and sprints to Stonybrook Manor to see Old Mr. Hennessey. When she gets there, the secretary doesn't recognize her and has some bad news: Old Mr. Hennessey passed away in the night.
Chapter Fifteen!!!! Which resumes the action immediately.
Before he died, Old Mr. Hennessey left a letter addressed only to Stacey and not to those other bozos who were there with her the whole time. In the letter, Old Mr. Hennessey confesses that he made up all the ghosts to scare the chillins. There was nothing scary about the old house; it was just a nice place to live for all those years. Stacey immediately forgets that she was hallucinating a fire just a few pages ago, and says she was glad that "there was no mystery after all." It's disturbing to me that Stacey would just hallucinate like that... and this is not the only book in which Stacey displays psychotic behavior. It's a shame she didn't get help after this episode; Wes might still be a happy man.
Kristy, Sam and Charlie drive up to the Manor to take her home. Kristy doesn't seem at all surprised by the note or by Old Mr. Hennessey's sudden, well-timed death. She acts like she knew there was no ghost all along, never mind the whole calling-an-emergency-meeting business.
It turns out that Charlie and Sam have been doing some research about the old house. Guess what? The scary face at the window was a workman!!! And the clanking of chains was the banging of pipes. The moaning was the pipes, because pipes totally moan. Also, the flame? A workman was using a blowtorch to get the old bathtub out of the wall. No word on why he was aiming the blowtorch out a first-story window at two young people, but I'm sure there's a perfectly good reason. Also, the flies? Were bees! Lol, good thing they didn't get stung!!!!
At home, Stacey tries to brainwash Charlotte into not talking about the haunted house anymore, and gives her some glow-in-the-dark barrettes. When her parents get home, Stacey whispers to them about how Charlotte got obsessed with the old house, so it will look like Stacey never believed it. And that's the end.
Really, that's the end. This ending is so terminally lame that I'm going to propose an alternate ending which seems to be left possible by the text. It involves Janine in a green velvet teddy; Charlie or, as Janine insists on calling him, Old Rubbernose; a secret rendesvous at the only quite place in town; moaning and... you know, I don't know how to incorporate the blowtorch into this. Maybe Charlie was hoping to put an end to the meddling busybodies once and for all. Good for him. I'm going to do the same to this book.