Carrie Chapter Five
She would not break this time.
But of course she did break. It took six hours but she broke, weeping and calling Momma to open the door and let her out. The need to urinate was terrible. The Black Man grinned at her with his jackal mouth, and his scarlet eyes knew all the secrets of woman-blood.
An hour after Carrie began to call, Momma let her out. Carrie scrabbled madly for the bathroom.
It was only now, three hours after that, sitting here with her head bowed over the sewing machine like a penitent, that she remembered the fear in Momma’s eyes and she thought she knew the reason why.
There had been other times when Momma had kept her in the closet for as long as a day at a stretch-when she stole that forty-nine-cent finger ring from Shuber’s Five and Ten, the time she had found that picture of Flash Bobby Pickett under Carrie’s pillow – and Carrie had once fainted from the lack of food and the smell of her own waste. And she had never, never spoken back as she had done today. Today she had even said the Eff Word. Yet Momma had let her out almost as soon as she broke.
There. The dress was done. She removed her feet from the treadle and held it up to look at it. It was long. And ugly. She hated it.
She knew why Momma had let her out.
‘Momma, may I go to bed?’
‘Yes.’ Momma did not look up from her doily.
She folded the dress over her arm. She looked down at the sewing machine. All at once the treadle depressed itself. The needle began to dip up and down, catching the light in steely flashes. The bobbin whirred and jerked. The sidewheel spun.
Momma’s head jerked up, her eyes wide. The looped matrix at the edge of her doily, wonderfully intricate yet at the same time as precise and even, suddenly fell in disarray.
‘Only clearing the thread,’ Carrie said softly.
‘Go to bed,’ Momma said curtly, and the fear was back in her eyes.
(she was afraid i’d knock the closet door right off its hinges)
(and i think i could i think i could yes i think i could)
From The Shadow Exploded (p. 58):
Margaret White was born and raised in Motton, a small town which borders Chamberlain and sends its tuition students to Chamberlain’s junior and senior high schools. Her parents were fairly well-to-do; they owned a prosperous night spot just outside the Motton town limits called The Jolly Roadhouse. Margaret’s father, John Brigham, was killed in a barroom shooting incident in the summer of 1959.
Margaret Brigham, who was then almost thirty, began attending fundamentalist prayer meetings. Her mother had become involved with a new man (Harold Alison, whom she later married) and they both wanted Margaret out of the house-she believed her mother, Judith, and Harold Alison were living in sin and made her views known frequently. Judith Brigham expected her daughter to remain a spinster the rest of her life. In the more pungent phraseology of her soon-to-be stepfather, ‘Margaret had a face like the ass end of a gasoline truck and a body to match.’ He also referred to her as ‘a little prayin’ Jesus.’
Margaret refused to leave until 1960, when she met Ralph White at a revival meeting. In September of that year she left the Brigham. residence in Motton and moved to a small flat in Chamberlain Centre.
The courtship of Margaret Brigham, and Ralph White terminated in marriage on March 23, 1962. On April 3, 1962, Margaret White was admitted briefly to Westover Doctors Hospital.
‘Nope, she wouldn’t tell us what was wrong,’ Harold Alison said. ‘The one time we went to see her she told us we were living in adultery even though we were hitched, and we were going to hell. She said God had put an invisible mark on our foreheads, but she could see it. Acted crazy as a bat in a henhouse, she did. Her mom tried to be nice, tried to find out what the matter with her was. She got hysterical and started to rave about an angel with a sword who would walk through the parking lots of roadhouses and cut down the wicked. We left.’
Judith Alison, however, had at least an idea of what might have been wrong with her daughter; she thought that Margaret had gone through a miscarriage. If so, the baby was conceived out of wedlock. Confirmation of this would shed an interesting light on the character of Carrie’s mother.
In a long and rather hysterical letter to her mother dated August 19, 1962, Margaret said that she and Ralph were living sinlessly, without ‘the Curse of Intercourse’. She urged Harold and Judith Alison to close their ‘abode of wickedness’ and do likewise. ‘It is,’ Margaret declares near the end of her letter, ‘the only [sic] way you & That Man can avoid the Rain of Blood yet to come. Ralph & I, like Mary & Joseph, will neither know or polute [sic] each others flesh. If there is issue, let it be Divine.’
Of course, the calendar tells us that Carrie was conceived later that same year …
The girls dressed quietly for their Monday morning Period One gym class, with no horseplay or little screaming catcalls, and none of them were very surprised when Miss Desjardin slammed open the locker-room and walked in. Her silver whistle dangling between her small breasts, and if her shorts were the ones she had been wearing on Friday, no trace of Carrie’s bloody handprint remained.
The girls continued to dress sullenly, not looking at her.
‘Aren’t you the bunch to send out for graduation,’ Miss
Desjardin said softly. ‘When is it? A month? And the spring Ball even less than that. Most of you have your dates and gowns already, I bet. Sue, you’ll be going with Tommy Ross. Helen, Roy Evarts. Chris, I imagine you can take your pick. Who’s the lucky guy?’.
‘Billy Nolan,’ Chris Hargensen said sullenly.
‘Well, isn’t he the lucky one?’ Desjardin remarked. ‘What are you going to give him for a party favour, Chris, a bloody Kotex? Or how about some used toilet paper? I understand these things seem to be your sack these days.’
Chris went red. ‘I’m leaving. I don’t have to listen to that.’
Desjardin had not been able to get the image of Carrie out of her mind all weekend, Carrie screaming, blubbering, a wet napkin plastered squarely in the middle of her pubic hair-and her own sick, angry reaction.
And now, as Chris tried to storm out past her, she reached out and slammed her against a row of dented, olive-coloured lockers beside the inner door. Chris’s eyes widened with shocked disbelief. Then a kind of insane rage filled her face.
‘You can’t hit us!’ she screamed. ‘You’ll get canned for this! See if you don’t, you bitch!’
The other girls winced and sucked breath and stared at the floor. It was getting out of hand. Sue noticed out of the corner of her eye that Fern and Donna Thibodeau were holding hands.
‘I don’t really care, Hargensen,’ Desjardin said. ‘If you or any of your girls – think I’m wearing my teacher hat right now, you’re making a bad mistake. I just want you all to know that you did a shitty thing on Friday. A really shitty thing.’
Chris Hargensen was sneering at the floor. The rest of the girls were looking miserably at anything but their gym instructor. Sue found herself looking into the shower stall – the scene of the crime – and jerked her glance elsewhere. None of them had ever heard a teacher call anything shitty before.
‘Did any of you stop to think that Carrie White has feelings? Do any of you ever stop to think? Sue? Fern? Helen? Jessica? Any of you? You think she’s ugly. Well, you’re all ugly. I saw it on Friday morning.’
Chris Hargensen was mumbling about her father being a lawyer.
‘Shutup!’ Desjardin yelled in her face. Chris recoiled so suddenly that her head struck the lockers behind her. She began to whine and rub her head.
‘One more remark out of you,’ Desjardin said softly, ‘and I’ll throw you across the room. Want to find out if I’m telling the truth?’
Chris, who had apparently decided she was dealing with a mad-woman, said nothing.
Desjardin put her hands on her hips. ‘The office has decided on punishment for you girls. Not my punishment, I’m sorry to say. My idea was three days’ suspension and refusal of your prom tickets.’
Several girls looked at each other and muttered unhappily.
‘That would have hit you where you live,’ Desjardin continued, ‘Unfortunately, Ewen is staffed completely by men in its administration wing. I don’t believe they have any real conception of how utterly nasty what you did was. So. One week’s detention.’
Spontaneous sighs of relief.
‘But. It’s to be my detention. In the gym. And I’m going to run you ragged.’
‘I won’t come,’ Chris said. Her lips had thinned across her teeth.
‘That’s up to you, Chris. That’s up to all of you. But punishment for skipping detention is going to be three days’ suspension and refusal of your prom tickets. Get the picture?’
No one said anything.
‘Right. Change up. And think about what I said.’
Utter silence for a long and stricken moment. Then Chris Hargensen said with loud, hysterical stridency:
‘She can’t get away with it!’ She opened a door at random, pulled out a pair of sneakers and hurled them across the room. ‘I’m going to get her! Goddammit! Goddammit! See if I don’t! If we all stick together we..’
‘Shut up, Chris,’ Sue said, and was shocked to hear a dead, adult lifelessness in her voice. ‘Just shut up.’
‘This isn’t over,’ Chris Hargensen said, unzipping her skirt with a rough jab and reaching for her fashionably frayed green gym shorts. ‘This isn’t over by a long way.’
And she was right.
From The Shadow Exploded (pp. 60-6 1):
In the opinion of this researcher, a great many of the people who have researched the Carrie White matter – either for the scientific journals or for the popular press – have placed a mistaken emphasis on a relatively fruitless search for incidents of telekinesis in the girl’s childhood. To strike a rough analogy, this is like spending years researching the early incidents of masturbation in a rapist’s childhood.
The spectacular incident of the stones serves as a kind of red herring in this respect. Many researchers have adopted the erroneous belief that where there has been one incident, there must be others. To offer another analogy, this is like dispatching a crew of meteor watchers to Crater National Park because a huge asteroid struck there two million years ago.
To the best of my knowledge, there are no other recorded instances of TK in Carrie’s childhood. If Carrie had not been an only child, we might have at least hearsay reports of dozens of other minor occurrences.
In the case of Andrea Kolintz (see Appendix II for a fuller history), we are told that, following a spanking for crawling out on the roof, ‘The medicine cabinet flew open, bottles fell to the floor or seemed to hurl themselves across the bathroom, doors flew open and slammed shut, and at the climax of the manifestation, a 300-pound stereo cabinet tipped over and records flew all over the living room, dive-bombing the occupants and shattering against the walls.’
Significantly, this report is from one of Andrea’s brothers, as quoted in the September 4, 1955, issue of Life magazine. Life is hardly the most scholarly or unimpeachable source, but there is a great deal of other documentation, and I think that the point of familiar witnesship is served.
In the case of Carrie White, the only witness to any possible prologue to the final climactic events was Margaret White, and she, of course is dead.
Henry Grayle, principal of Ewen High School, had been expecting him all week, but Chris Hargensen’s father didn’t show up until Friday-the day after Chris had skipped her detention period with the formidable Miss Desjardin.
‘Yes, Miss Fish?’ He spoke formally into the intercom, although he could see the man in the outer office through his window, and certainly knew his face from pictures in the local paper.
‘John Hargensen to see you, Mr Grayle.’
‘Send him in, please.’ Goddammit, Fish, do you have to sound so impressed?
Grayle was an irrepressible paper-clip-bender, napkin-ripper, corner-folder. For John Hargensen, the town’s leading legal light, he was bringing up the heavy ammunition – a whole box of heavy-duty clips in the middle of his desk blotter.
Hargensen was a tall, impressive man with a selfconfident way of moving and the kind of sure, mobile features that said this was a man superior at the game of one-step-ahead social interaction.
He was wearing a brown Savile Row suit with subtle glints of green and gold running through the weave that put Grayle’s local off-the-rack job to shame. His briefcase was thin, real leather, and bound with glittering stainless steel. The smile was faultless and full of many capped teeth – a smile to make the hearts of lady jurors melt like butter in a warm skillet. His grip was major league all the way-firm, warm, long.
‘Mr Grayle, I’ve wanted to meet you for some time now.’
‘I’m always glad to see interested parents,’ Grayle said with a dry smile. ‘That’s why we have Parents Open House every October.’
‘Of course.’ Hargensen smiled, ‘I imagine you’re a busy man, and I have to be in court in forty-five minutes from now. Shall we get down to specifics?’
‘Surely,’ Grayle dipped into his box of clips and began to mangle the first one. ‘I suspect you are here concerning the disciplinary action taken against your daughter Christine. You should be informed that school policy on the matter has been set. As a man concerned with the workings of justice yourself, you should realize that bending the rules is hardly possible or-‘
Hargensen waved his hand impatiently. ‘Apparently you’re labouring under a misconception, Mr Grayle. I am here because my daughter was manhandled by your gym teacher, Miss Rhoda Desjardin. And verbally abused, I’m afraid. I believe the term your Miss Desjardin used in connection with my daughter was “shitty.”‘
Grayle sighed inwardly. ‘Miss Desjardin has been reprimanded.’
John Hargensen’s smile cooled thirty degrees, ‘I’m afraid a reprimand will not be sufficient. I believe this has been the young, ah, lady’s first year in a teaching capacity?’
‘Yes. We have found her to be eminently satisfactory.’
‘Apparently your definition of eminently satisfactory includes throwing students up against lockers and the ability to curse like a sailor?’
Grayle fenced: ‘As a lawyer, you must be aware that this state acknowledges the school’s title to in loco parentis – along with full responsibility, we succeed to full parental rights during school hours. If you’re not familiar, I’d advise you to check Monondock Consolidated School District vs Cranepool or-‘
‘I’m familiar with the concept,’ Hargensen mid. ‘I’m also aware that neither the Cranepool case that you administrators are so fond of quoting or the Frick case cover anything remotely concerned with physical or verbal abuse. There is, however, the case of School District No. 4 vs David. Are you familiar with it?’
Grayle was. George Kramer, the assistant principal of the consolidated high school in S.D. 14 was a poker buddy. George wasn’t playing much poker any more. He was working for an insurance company after taking it upon himself to cut a student’s hair. The school district had ultimately paid seven thousand dollars in damages, or about a thousand bucks a snip.
Grayle started on another paper clip.
‘Let’s not quote cases at each other, Mr Grayle, were busy men. I don’t want a lot of unpleasantness. I don’t want a mess. My daughter is at home, and she will stay there Monday and Tuesday. That will complete her threeday suspension. That’s all right.’ Another dismissive wave of the hand.
(catch fido good boy here’s a nice bone)
‘Here’s what I want,’ Hargensen continued. ‘One, prom tickets for my daughter. A girl’s senior prom is important to her, and Chris is very distressed. Two, no contract renewal of the Desjardin woman. That’s for me. I believe that if I cared to take the School Department to court, I could walk out with both her dismissal and a hefty damage settlement in my pocket. But I don’t want to be vindictive.’
‘So court is the alternative if I don’t agree to your demands?’
‘I understand that a School Committee hearing would precede that, but only as a formality. But yes, court would be the final result. Nasty for you.’
Another paper clip.
‘For physical and verbal abuse, is that correct?’
‘Mr Hargensen, are you aware that your daughter and about ten of her peers threw sanitary napkins at a girl who was having her first menstrual period? A girl who was under the impression that she was bleeding to death?’
A faint frown creased Hargensen’s features, as if someone had spoken in a distant room. ‘I hardly think such an allegation is at issue. I am speaking of actions following-‘
‘Never mind,’ Grayle said. ‘Never mind what you were speaking of. This girl, Carietta White, was called “a dumb pudding” and was told to “plug it up” and was subjected to various obscene gestures. She has not been in school this week at all. Does that sound like physical and verbal abuse to you? It does to me.’
‘I don’t intend,’ Hargensen said, ‘to sit here and listen to a tissue of half-truths or your standard schoolmaster lecture, Mr Grayle, I know my daughter well enough to-‘
‘Here,’ Grayle reached into the wire IN basket beside the blotter and tossed a sheaf of pink cards across the desk, ‘I doubt very much if you know the daughter represented in these cards half so well as you think you do. If you did, you might realize that it was about time for a trip to the woodshed. It’s time you snubbed her close before she does someone a major damage.’