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Good morning babies (pronounced Bepis). It’s time for another chapter recap, where we look back at all the crap that went down during chapter five of Bad Town For A Pretty Face: New York. Be sure you’re caught up before you scroll down or you’ll be hit with a few spoilers!
Our gang, lead by Astor and her POV this chapter, are taking the ferry to Staten Island where their second safe-house lies. Ferry rides happen quite a bit when you live on a city made of islands, as unused to them as many of you readers may be. I vividly remember taking the ferry to Staten Island as a kid (it’s painted bright orange) but I have no recollection of what we were doing there. Maybe catching a ball game? I simply don’t know. I’ve taken the ferry to Shelter Island and Connecticut several times, and it’s easy to separate the cleaner, white ships from the orange, Staten Island level filthy ones.
It doesn’t seem like they were followed, but if someone wanted to track them to Staten Island they could have taken the Verrazzano Bridge Astor is dramatically gazing upon (hint hint, this is me telling y’all Wendy took this bridge). They all hop in a taxi and make their way to the safe-house, which isn’t in the best shape since its abandonment and Hurricane Sandy. Guys I just misspelled taxi as taxy like an idiot and when I went back to fix it I wrote taxy again. What the fuck. Anyways you can sense they’re all exhausted from the very beginning of the chapter and that feeling calls again as the group ensures the house is secure and locks it down. There’s no running water and they all have to take shifts sleeping to keep look-out, so it sounds like they’re prepared to really hunker down here.
Astor notices she’s got a missed call from Tate, which she takes in the other room. More of the mysterious Tate! Who is she, what does she want? Maybe with all the intrigue you guys thought this would be a bad guy, but psyche, when Astor calls her back she’s friendly first and concerned for her safety next. She’s quick to offer solutions in the form of aide and it’s clear she and Astor are very good friends with an excellent rapport. Ha! A red herring! But Astor doesn’t want to run, which I guess y’all’d expect from her, and there’s little Tate can do, so she vows to investigate things without getting caught. An interesting conversation, to say the least, and a clear promise we won’t be seeing the last of Tate.
Astor returns to the front room, where Eyana’s found an old pack of cigarettes and Astor makes a remark about the New York cigarette tax that I’m ~sure~ everyone will get right away. The taxes on cigarettes have been going up pretty steadily since 2006ish, so you get the idea that it’s been an extremely long time since Astor lit up and therefore an extremely long time since they hit up their secondary safe-house. I have a headcanon (is it headcanon if I’m the writer?) that they took refuge here in 2016 after the Las Vegas gang fell as a precaution. In which case Brienne wouldn’t have even been around — she’d be fourteen.
So they have a listless night. They have to keep lookout, they have to take turns sleeping, and they have to eat cold canned chickpeas. Yes, they have power, but no, they’re not getting warm chickpeas. Let’s just say they have a gas oven because I want to torture them. But it pays off! Astor wakes up to news from Eyana that she’s spotted the copy-cat making a rookie mistake, passing in front of a lighted Halloween decoration. That’s right, this whole book is a holiday episode! The best holiday there is! I just want you guys to know that I’m writing this a little ahead — today is July 19th, there’s a massive fucking heatwave going on and my fan is blasting — and two days ago we started getting the Halloween merchandise at work. What. On. Earth. I really wanted to set this story in Christmas because New York is the best place to be on Christmas day, but when I was planning future Bad Towns (is it even a surprise by now?) I decided against it. Thanksgiving during the parade was also a thought but I had to push it back even farther if I wanted the autumn trees to be pretty and orange instead of lifeless and depressing.
ANYWAYS Astor assures the gang they’re not going to miss Halloween because of all this drama, which officially sets a goal for everyone that may or may not be met, I haven’t figured out my pacing yet. We’ll see. So they get a plan together on what to do that’s mostly just getting us some hints at their characters; Cleo feels useless even if they can’t quite express how protective they are; Brienne suggests the best options even when Astor doesn’t want to endanger the gang with them; Astor recalls standing at the ready when she looks at Eyana, which is. . . interesting. We’ll get back to that eventually.
The end plan boils down to climbing up to the roof they’ve spotted Wendy on and capturing her up there while also finding her car and any cohorts she may have. Great idea, guys. Astor allows it because Eyana’s fucking around exactly zero percent and provides her limited back-up as Brienne hunts down Wendy’s car and Cleo keeps the house locked down. The plan goes down exactly as they want it to, meaning Eyana throws Wendy off the roof and her landing is softened by trash cans. It’s fun for me that this isn’t from her POV considering how important a moment in her life it is. It’s from the POV of a total stranger who’s watching this girl’s ass get kicked thinking she’s the enemy.
Wendy’s barely able to get up and gets absolutely pummeled when Eyana comes her way, which is kinda hard when we’re watching it happen to someone we sympathize with. I was channelling Aidy’s big fight with Sorrel for this one — it feels so similar even if it’s quite different. Aidy was at a disadvantage against Sorrel but was able to take her down with help from the police, whereas it’s a swift defeat for Wendy. She’s grabbed quickly and pulled into the house before the neighborhood starts to wake up — and because I like to think Astor doesn’t want too much unnecessary violence. Wendy’s kind of incoherent, which I expect happens when you’re thrown off a roof, but Astor thinks she hears her and Eyana’s names as they get her into the house and locked into the crawlspace.
When they shut her in and hop out Astor can’t help but notice something peeking out of the girl’s duffel bag — a curly wig, for starters, and then a bottle of extremely light foundation. We end the chapter with her absolutely aghast and bewildered. Fun stuff! You can tell the next chapter is going to have a lot of shit going down. I enjoyed the meeting between Wendy and the crew, I think it had to be this far below her expectations and an absolute violent, hectic, slightly idiotic encounter that’s only going to get worse from here. Hope you guys enjoyed, be sure to tune in to chapter six to see what happens next!