Summer With the Hamlet Killer
By Skye Rocket

Day One: Chase the Overrated

I never thought I could loathe one human being as much as I loathed Chase Gibson.

Who is Chase Gibson, you ask? Oh, come on. Everyone who's anyone knows and loves Chase Gibson, the twenty five year old superstar actor. America's newest sweetheart. The media never lets you forget him, and that's why we've all become smitten with him. Most of us, anyways.

The girls adore him. Apparently, it's because of his spiky blonde hair. Maybe it is because of his chiseled abs and fantastic arm muscles! They could be mesmerized by his piercing blue eyes. And yes, maybe it is because of his god-like cheekbones.

Either way, in a matter of months, he's become an overnight sensation. He's the star of 'hilarious' and 'thought-provoking' teenage comedies and dramas. Most of his films got good reviews. But did I love Chase Gibson?

No. Chase Gibson made me want to vomit. Who else could make Shakespeare seem so trivial besides Chase? He gave a ridiculously laughable performance as Hamlet. The critics loved it. It made millions at the box office. It made girls swoon! It made Shakespeare cool again!

It made me want to choke myself.

Obviously, I was the only teenaged girl who wasn't buying his whole routine. And obviously, Chase Gibson must have had some incriminating photo evidence against someone in Hollywood. That must be the only single explanation for the whole phenomenon. Never before had I seen people go so fruit-loopy over a single person. I mean, it wasn't like he had discovered a cure for world hunger or anything that was really important. He was just an 'actor'.

Try telling that to anyone now days, though.

He made the cover of every teen magazine. He was featured on every late- night talk show. Every time there was another woeful documentary about the rich and famous, you could be that Chase Gibson would be on it.

Like I said, Chase has the attention and love of each and every girl in America (excluding my best friend and I, who can see through his fa├žade).

But I never expected that my mother would be one of those girls. I just can't believe that she, a forty-year old woman, would be giggling like a school girl at the very thought of her impending date with Chase.

Yes, that's correct (you catch on quickly, genius!): my mother, Charlotte Hallandale, single mother of two (my brother William Hallandale and me, Lydia Hallandale), landed a date with America's favorite heartthrob.

Quite the cradle robber, huh? That's what I thought. Who dates someone young and famous when they're my mom's age? She should be into accountants, someone with dignity and stability. And sure as hell not someone who probably still laughs at gross-out teenage comedies.

Anyways, I was sitting on the futon at home one rainy night at the end of May with Will (my twelve year old brother), watching a marathon of I Dream of Jeannie reruns. Jeannie was having some sort of conflict with the Master when my mother waltzed through the door, looking happy as can be.

"Hello, Will. Hello, Lydia!" She greeted the two of us in a singsong tone. Immediately, I became worried.

"Hi, Mom," Will and I chorused lazily.

Mom was hopping from foot to foot.

I couldn't help but raise my eyebrows. "Do you need to go to the restroom, Mom?" I asked cautiously.

Mom shook her head with a sickly sweet smile on her face. "Nope. I have a date tomorrow!"

This didn't surprise Will and I. Ever since our father left five years ago when Will was eight and I was eleven, we'd gotten pretty used to our mother going our on dates with guys. But if only we had had an inkling of what the revelation would turn out to be, we could have prepared ourselves for the shock.

"That's good," Will said slowly. "Who's the new Lover Boy?"

Her smile could barely fit upon her face. "Chase Gibson! I met him at the Save a Tree convention!" Apparently, we were supposed to react with confetti, streamers and balloons.

My mind didn't register the name at first. "Chase Gibson? Like the actor?" Her head wobbled into an excited nod. My jaw dropped in new founded horror. "Like the twenty five year old actor?!"

She still looked as though she had won the freakin' lottery. William looked as though he might faint. I felt sick to my stomach. I kept waiting for my mom to erupt into laughs and shout, "Gotcha! You should have seen the looks on your faces!" But it never happened. She just kept that big, expectant smile on her face. I began to feel guilty.

And so, I tried to fix things.

"Wh-what? I don't know what to say," I stammered apologetically. Good job, moron.

My mother looked thoughtful. "How about you say, 'I'm so happy for you, Mother!'?"

That did sound like a decent idea. But I knew if I opened my mother, either nothing would come, or I would say something terrible. How do you reply to that when you discover that, shock of all shocks, your mother is dating someone not only fifteen years younger than her, but also the biggest teen idol in Hollywood at that point in time?

And how do you reply when you cannot stand the sight of that huge teen idol? What if seeing him on a magazine makes you turn away, recoiling in horror?

Still, there was nothing I could do, short of running away and joining the circus. I don't think that I could leave William here to deal with the Monster That Killed Shakespeare, soon to be my mom's date.

Of all the horrid dates my mother had since my father figure hopped in his run down truck and lit on out of town, this had the potential to be the worst. I knew I was being immature about the whole ordeal, but damn! My father loved the fine arts, especially Hamlet. What would he say it he knew Mom dated the guy who was solely responsible for the murder of a great literary hero?

That's one of the only things I allow myself to remember about my father. He loved the Rolling Stones and Shakespeare, quite the combination. He liked to ski and he always had an opinion.

I don't like to talk about him. After he got out of our lives, I pretended he didn't exist. I'm sure it was for the best. And if it wasn't, who cared? There was nothing I could do about it. He wasn't coming back, and I needed to face facts if I was going to 'move on' and become a 'better person.'

I should really stop watching Oprah with my friends.

Ever since he decided he didn't need any of us anymore, I was a teenaged cynic. No, I'm just kidding. I don't know why I say things. I'm shy and quiet most of the time, but every once in a while, in true fashion faithful to my invisible father, some random blurting takes place. I always look on the dark side, but some things do make me happy.

William and I are pretty independent. Mom has a demanding job as a nurse, so since Dad left we have been pretty good at relying on ourselves. I suppose we had to be. But enough about that.

Soon after the Bad News came, William and I decided to go to bed. I turned my neatly made bed down and after performing some standard, before-bed tasks; I turned the light out and removed the walkie-talkie that matched Will's from my nightstand.

"Lifestyles of a Rock-Star, this is Stocking-Footed-Ferret," I whispered dumbly into the plastic walkie-talkie. It was strange that we used codenames, I know. But it was just fun.

"Hey, sis," I heard his whisper back through the phone-like object. We used to sit up late at night and talk (we shared a room for a while, since he took it hard when Mom and Dad split up), but after I moved to the basement, we resorted to running down our walkie-talkie batteries nightly in long conversations, Army-style. "So, what do you think of this whole thing?"

"I think that it pisses me off, Will!" I snapped. "I mean, she knows that I hate Chase. And what the hell kind of name is Chase anyway? That's not a name! It's a frickin' verb!"

I could swear that I heard Will's loud sigh all the way through the floor. "I know, I know. 'Chase Gibson murdered poor, dear Hamlet, blah, blah, blah.' I've heard it a million times. 'He was only on for sex appeal!'"

Deep down, I knew that William agreed with me. Right?

"Well, yeah. But it is true, you must admit."

He did admit it, as I knew that he would.

"Anyways, relationships with celebrities never last, Will. We have nothing to worry about."

I felt sort of bad about wishing for my mom's soon-to-be relationship to crumble, but I was only looking out for her. Wasn't I? Was I jealous? No frickin' way. I'd kill anyone who said I was, because I knew in my heart that no matter what, Will and I had to drive him away.

I shook those troubling thoughts away and shut my eyes, drifting off.

-

Day Two: First Date

That morning, I called my best male friend Roger up. I couldn't contain my disgust about the whole scenario. Luckily, my mom had already gone off to work, so I could whine about it to my heart's content. Sometimes I thought that wallowing in my own self-pity was my best skill. But then again, I was pretty good at poker as well.

"Hmm. The guy who created the travesty of Hamlet's Demise?" Roger asked less-than-sympathetically, using one of the phrases I used in my long- winded rants about Chase Gibson. All of my friends knew how much I despised him. "Quite the situation on your hands, Lydia."

"I know!" I wailed pathetically. Ugh, snap out of it, a voice urged me. "Anyways, after she gets off of work, they're going out for sushi. Sushi, Roger! My mother hates fish!" I took a deep breath. "I'm sorry. And after that, she's bringing him here. I swear, one of us will die before the end of the night. Like in a damned cowboy movie."

I could nearly hear Roger's mind working. "Okay, okay, calm down. First thing's first: get Will on the other phone. I've got a plan."

My heart leapt in joy. Roger's plans were always strange, but well-working.

When Roger says that he has a plan, chaos ensues. I could tell you stories about getting kicked out of the mall, the local fast food restaurants, even out of hardware store. He must have some sort of thrill seeking issues.

I managed to pry William away from the Playstation for a while in order to begin the plot to alienate our mother's date.

"Okay, okay," Roger began, a laugh lingering in his voice. "This is what ya gotta do."

Today I didn't even bother correcting his misuse of the English language.

~

I could hear them laughing as they came in the door. I gestured to William, who was working on the chain of gum wrappers that we'd been making since last summer. He immediately threw down the long string of paper onto the coffee table and picked up the 'first secret weapon.' That was what Roger had called it. As Will did this, I flipped on a copy of Nightmare on Elm Street.

And, brilliantly, right as Freddy beat the hell out of some random guy, William and I started screaming. There was a spray of foam darts at our mother and Chase, going down like yellow pelts of rain. I smiled faintly. Phase one had been completed.

Mom gave a pleasant enough smile.

"Damn, I thought it was Freddy," I said, mocking disbelief. "Well, sorry."

Good lord, the look on the enemy's (Chase) face was hysterical. I thought my head would explode from the laughter that took place inside my brain. Surprisingly, I managed to keep a straight face.

"Hey, Lydia, is it Freddy Krueger?" Will asked, faking terror and shyness. I must admit, he could go places in theater.

I smiled as cutely as possible. "No, William, but I wish that it was," I crowed, sounding as ignorant as possible. I stuck my hand out. "My name is Lydia. Sometimes I go by my middle name. But I'm not going to tell you what it is."

He looked caught off guard. My mom looked sick to her stomach. What the hell was I doing?! I didn't know, but I was going to have fun with it.

"My brother's name is William," I added vacantly.

"It's a real pleasure to meet you, Lydia." He looked up over the stair railing at Will. "And you too, William."

I sauntered over to the futon again and sat down on it. So far, Roger's genius plan was going well. I put my feet in my lap and turned the video off. That part of the plan was finished. It was now time for my nightly viewing of the reruns of M*A*S*H that I had taped that day.

"So, Mom, did you and Clint have fun?" I asked, eating a potato chip with a satisfying crunch. Roger had said that anything pisses people off when their names are wrongly-said or mispronounced.

"First, his name is Chase, and yes, I had a lovely time," my mother explained, looking at me as if I had snapped my twig.

I saw her strange look, and hurried to turn away from this to offer Chase some Skittles. He shook his head to signal now. I shrugged.

Mom broke the awkward silence. Well, it was silent except for the playing of the M*A*S*H theme song. "Lydia, can we maybe turn the TV off?"

Oh, shock of all shocks! I faked an adverse reaction, and a good one too. "Mom! Hawkeye wrote to his dad about Christmas today and I missed it because William and I went to the store with Roger!" I faked a hurt look. "But I suppose that the greatest sitcom of all time can wait. We have a guest."

Chase gave me a strange look. "Really, Charlotte, I don't mind."

For some reason, hearing him call my mother by her first name really bothered me. I mean, REALLY bothered me. Did he realize that she was fifteen years older than him?! Ugh. It was just disturbing, in my humble opinion.

Mom looked hopelessly upset. "Well, I guess you can leave it on." I smiled and clapped my hands. Will had decided to go to bed. I was now on my own. Oh, joy.

"Thank you mother," I said in a polite, zombie-like state.

There was an appalled look on her face. Chase looked uncomfortable. "Well, Lydia, what did you and William do all night?"

I thought for a moment. "Watched movies and ate dinner. Roger called twice. I let the dogs out to go to the bathroom. Will tripped over the footstool. Standard stuff, really," I recited. I had had the whole thing planned. "So, sushi, huh?" A thoughtful look crossed my face. "Thought you hated fish, mom."

"Well, I thought that I should try something new," Mom said, giving me a terrible brand of Look.

Shrug. "Well, I'm thinkin' I better go to bed. Gotta get up early to watch M*A*S*H. They're showing today's episodes again tomorrow, and Roger was bugging me the whole time I was watching it. I couldn't focus, man," I thought aloud in a foggy, far away tone. "Good night, mom. Good night and a pleasure to meet you, Chester." I slapped him on the back.

"It's Chase, actually."

I yawned. "I'm sure it is." With that, I pulled my tape out of the VCR and proceeded down the front stairs and to my room. Vaguely I could hear my mother apologizing for my eccentric display. I ducked down as not to be seen and listened.

To my horror, at that moment, Chase spoke up. "I had a great time tonight, Charlotte. I was wondering if maybe you'd like to go out again tomorrow?"

My head reeled, and I felt that I might fall down the stairs. I crept down the stairs to the safety of my shag-carpeted sanctuary. Changing into a pair of duck pajama pants and a t-shirt, I picked up my walkie-talkie and flicked it on.

"Hey, Will. Our mission failed. Miserably. They're going out again tomorrow," I seethed. My fingers were shaking slightly.

When Will replied, I could hear the resentment in his voice. "Damn, I don't believe it! We must not have been uncivilized enough. I told Roger we should had run around naked, but you said no."

I scoffed. "Nakedness is not in my contract. I'd rather let them date then drop my skivvies for this purpose." I guess I couldn't keep myself from heaving a dreadful sigh.

William did try to comfort me. "I suppose we'll just deal with it. Like we always do."

The words should have inspired me, but they didn't. I got no sweeping wave of pride. I did not feel the urge to yell, "I agree!"

Instead of expressing my extreme doubt, I sighed. "Okay, Will. I'll try my hardest," I told him, and for that moment, I wasn't lying. But I could not help but heave a massive sigh as I laid my head down as heavily as possible onto my pillow.

-

Day Three: Playing Nice?

It was Saturday, and the occasion of my mother's second date with Chase Gibson. I had no clue where they were going, when they were going, and what they were doing. All I cared about at the moment was eating a heaping bowl of Fruity Pebbles as I sat perched on the kitchen counter, leaning on the fridge.

At that moment, someone rang the doorbell, and Mom went to get it. And, what do you know, it wasn't Chase. It was Roger and Ivy, my two best friends. Ivy and I had known one another since kindergarten. Roger and I met in English class on the first day of seventh grade. I had been just as shy when I met the two of them as I was now, although you might not guess it.

The came in, and before I knew it, they were sitting in various places around my kitchen, on counters and chairs. I sighed.

"Thanks for coming over, guys. Unfortunately, I'm in my PJs right now, so this meeting isn't quite as official as I intended it to be when I thought about inviting you all over at midnight last night." I gave a disappointed pause. "In fact, it now seems kind of stupid."

Ivy shrugged and ate a chunk of an apple in our fridge. It was no big deal. Mom never cared if Will and I's friends ate our food. Big deal. "It's not that bad, Lydia. I mean, maybe he's not the dillhole who we think he is. He might even be a decent human being."

Roger scoffed. "Yeah, he might be. And monkeys might fly out of my butt."

The girl with the pale brown hair shrugged. "You never know, Roger. They might have already done it," Ivy said thoughtfully. "You might just not have noticed."

The three of us laughed like morons, right as Mom opened the door. In strode Chase. Ivy and Roger noticed immediately as I sat up straighter. Instinctively, they looked away, as did I. I became preoccupied with stirring around my cereal.

"Lydia, where did Will go?" Mom asked, looking concerned.

"He went down to the drugstore with his little gang," I explained. "To buy candy." I wished silently that Ivy, Roger and I could get out of here. I wished I had gone with Will. I wished I were anywhere but here.

Mom shrugged. "Guess what?"

Somehow I knew that even if I guessed for a solid two weeks, there was no way that I was going to stumble upon the right answer. I gave a shrug as Ivy and Roger looked on intently. Finally, I figured I had better just ask her. "What?"

"Chase is taking me horseback riding!" she squealed. My migraine worsened. I tried to think of a snide remark, but nothing came. Perhaps that was for the best.

"Fun, fun,' I said dully. Mom didn't really pay me any heed. I was always in a bad mood in the morning.

Her smile did not fade. "But that's not all! I have to work a shift tonight, so guess what?" Again, I did not know. "Chase is going to stay here and hang out with you!"

At this, my jaw dropped about a foot. "Are you joking?" My mom shook her head. If I wasn't sitting down, my knees would have given out.

I wanted to protest. I really wanted to scream 'hell no!' But I couldn't. All I could say was, "But-but I'm having a gathering tonight!"

She gave me a suspicious look. "With who?"

"Ivy and Roger and I are going to play with the Ouija board!" I blurted. Dammit, why couldn't I keep my mouth shut?! I knew there was a strong chance of me getting yelled at. I also knew that I could be forbidden to have my friends over.

Yet, instead of getting pissed, my mom merely shrugged. "I know that, Lydia. I merely meant he'd be over here. He's going to hang out with Will. Will already knows," she said. This puzzled me. What the hell was happening? How had I missed out on this explanation?

I could only imagine what would happen next.

-

Will Chase ruin Lydia's summer? Will Charlotte and Chase's relationship fail or flourish? Are Ivy and Roger going to support Lydia's mission? Find out next time in Summer With the Hamlet Killer!