As readers will soon find out in Rachel Cohen’s Kill All Happies, Vic Navarro has a few goals for her last week of senior year:
Throw an epic party. (And bid her favorite hometown restaurant goodbye.)
Hook up with her crush, Jake Zavala-Kim.
And don’t get caught by her nemesis (and economics teacher-slash-town-councilwoman) Miss Ann Thrope.
There’s a lot riding on Navarro’s shoulders in the new novel from the co-author of Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares. EW presents an exclusive excerpt from book, which is out Tuesday. Preorder it here.
Excerpt from Kill All Happies by Rachel Cohn
WISDOM FROM AN ELDER
A Few Hours Before
Text from Lindsay:
Hey, dumbslut. Don’t throw a party just to impress a guy.
This is the story of how I never listen to my big sister.
WARPATH OF SUCK
The face of evil looked so pretty in the moonlight. You’d want to kiss her unless you knew better. Then you’d want to suffocate her.
With a fitness-freak figure, corn-silk blond hair tightened into a bun, and wispy tendrils framing her former beauty-pageant–winning face, people sometimes won- dered why the attractive Annette Thrope, Rancho Soldado High School’s resident economics teacher, had acquired the nickname “Miss Ann Thrope.” They would stop won- dering if, for instance, they saw her as I did that night, backlit by a full moon, packing heat and ready to rumble. The pretty lady with the blackest of hearts had arrived at everyone’s good time.
I found Thrope standing outside the open driver’s side door of the Chug Bug, a former VW bus that Jake had spent the past year of his life painstakingly repurposing into a beer truck. The Chug Bug had fueled the opening hours of my senior class party at Happies restaurant, but was now parked at the empty edge of the old Happies theme park’s Ravishing Ravine, its headlights offering a faint glimpse into the abyss down below. I didn’t know how the Chug Bug had gotten there, but I assumed Jake had moved it to this secluded spot deep in the park as a precaution after the Happies fanatics had stormed the party and dismantled the gates. Anyone besides Thrope would admire the Chug Bug (pimped-out beer cruiser— what wasn’t to love?), but if the police arrived next, their vehicle appreciation might quickly wane once they realized that the Chug Bug had been serving the Rancho Soldado High School senior class of underage drinkers all night long.
More fearsome than the potential intrusion of official law enforcement, though, was actual vigilante law enforcement: Thrope. Her eyes were ablaze and she had a rifle slung over her back like she was a late-middle-aged Annie Oakley. The founder of Rancho Soldado’s Ladies Rifle Club never traveled unprepared. Nice way to break up a party: pack a weapon and hold the beer truck hostage. Always gunning for popularity, our Miss Ann Thrope.
“Victoria,” she hissed. “Are you responsible for this mess?”
My party was so not a mess, unless by “mess,” Thrope meant a couple hundred newly graduated, highly inebriated classmates reveling in Happies’ previously abandoned theme park along with hordes of hardcore Happies fanatics. The crowds roamed the grounds now dotted with litter, puke, and empty bottles, but the real “mess” this night was my gnawing fear that some drunk dumbfuck would light a campfire on this parched, drought-stricken desert land on the California-Nevada border and close out Happies one last time with a literal blaze of glory.
Dear Rancho Soldado High School Class of Two Thousand and Awesome:
You’re welcome. Because yes, I personally made this party happen. May tonight’s infinite supply of rocky road ice cream nourish your hearts, tingle your cavities, and give you forever-fond memories of Happies after it’s demolished to make way for whatever big-box store brings big-time suck to our town in its place. Love and easy does it on the orange marmalade Jell-O shots (thanks, Emerson Luong!),
Your pal and classmate, Vic Navarro
I couldn’t let this party take a death dive into Grinchtown just because the ultimate party pooper had arrived. I told Thrope, “If by ‘mess’ you mean ‘amazing- ness,’ then yes, I’m responsible.”
Before she could fire another round of accusations at me, Zeke, my night’s unexpected companion, dared to ask her, “Um, that’s a pellet rifle you have there, right, Ms. Thrope?”
“You’d better hope it is, young man,” said Thrope, in a threatening teacher tone that implied, You may not have been my student yet. But you will be. Since school let out all of yesterday, Zeke had advanced to high school junior. Thrope walked closer to him, sniffing for alcohol. He exhaled loudly and she quickly retreated back to the Chug Bug. (Boy breath. Not beer breath. I’m guessing.) Then her gaze narrowed onto my face again. “If this is your party, Victoria, I hope you’re ready to see it end. Badly.”
How badly could it end? Happies was already over. Throughout the park, partygoers were celebrating the Last Call at Happies, before our desert town’s most beloved institution was razed to make way for a Monster Mall. I’d worked so hard to ensure Thrope didn’t find out about the hastily organized party, but now that she was here, I thought, So what? I’d own up to my responsibility, and then some. I told Thrope, “No way am I going to let you ruin my party.”
If this party was a mess, it was my mess, and I had it under control.
Mostly under control. Partly under control.
Not really at all under control.
But what could Thrope do to me now? Give me detention? I’d already graduated. It’s not like I was counting on her for a college recommendation letter. I’d already been rejected from the one university I’d applied to.
“A beer truck serving minors?” asked Thrope. “Your idea?”
“Pretty much!” I admitted. The Chug Bug had been one of my better economic brainstorms, if I did say so myself. Because of all the money and exposure he’d be getting from it tonight, I felt very confident that the Chug Bug’s owner, Jake Zavala-Kim, would be giving me a very generous thank-you. A cash percentage would be nice, but the orgasms would be even better. Once upon a very delicious memory, Jake and I made out while we were locked in the walk-in ice cream freezer back when we both worked as waitstaff at Happies. That random encounter never progressed beyond lip-locking and ass-groping before some jerk had to unlock the door from the outside, but now that I was leaving town for good, I planned to get the deed done and make sure Jake remembered me when I was gone. Really, really remembered me.
“Well, then,” Thrope said. “I guess now’s the time for you to see how I deal with underage drinkers.”
Before I could respond, Zeke said, “Sing-alongs?” It was definitely not the time for joking, but it was impossible not to be inspired by the locals’ favorite song being sung by an assembly of drunken celebrants in the park’s nearby Pinata Village. Zeke sung along with them:
On the LA to Vegas hop hop hop
Tummies ready for yummies
At everyone’s favorite dessert in the desert stop stop stop!
Happies Happies Happies
Super burgers then ice cream with a toy Where your happiness is our
joy joy joy
So come to Happies . . . hop hop hop!
Bold move for a junior, Zeke! Miss Ann Thrope hated nothing more than Happies. Thrope despised a lot about her students—when they were tardy, when they wandered school during class periods without hall passes, when their superior opinions didn’t gel with her misinformed ones. Actually, like many high school teachers, what Thrope loathed most was students, period. But what really drove Thrope crazy was when students defiled her classroom with Happies restaurant evidence: Happies sandwich wrappers, Happies drink containers, Happies french fries spelling out fuck you on a desk with a ketchup-drawn heart around the message. Thrope was a notorious health nut, but even that didn’t explain the level of hatred she had for all things Happies. It made no sense. She’d once been a Miss Happie!
Encouraged by Zeke, I joined in on the song’s last line. So come to Happies . . . hop hop hop! On cue, Zeke and I hop-hop-hopped to the last line of the song. Take that, Thrope!
My persistent worry about someone setting a campfire in the park was misplaced. The fury rising on Thrope’s face could easily have sparked one instead. But rather than verbally respond, Thrope let out a little chortle, and then she leaned down and into the open door at the Chug Bug’s driver’s side.
“NOOOO!” Zeke and I both yelled, realizing what she was about to do.
Thrope released the Chug Bug’s parking brake.
The beer truck lurched forward suddenly, but slowly, creaking as it inched along the road. Zeke and I lunged toward the front of the truck to try to stop its movement, but Cardio-Queen Thrope sprinted to the back of the truck faster and gave it a forceful nudge.
Creak. Rock. Roooooll.
As carelessly as a tiny marble going over a toy moun- tain, the Chug Bug dropped over the side of the road. But louder. Much, much louder. The truck tumbled down the hill—RUMBLE! BOOM! THUNK!—before landing ver- tically at the bottom of the ravine. CRASH! The truck was smashed, totaled, dunzo. Yet, somehow, its faceup lights still worked, illuminating the sky like a fucked-up Bat-Signal.
Thrope said, “That is how I deal with underage drink- ing, kiddos.”
Zeke looked at me, and I looked at him. There really was only one response. “Fuuuuuuuck,” we both said. The sight was horrific, yet bizarrely compelling.
The commotion had caused a swarm of partygoers to come forth to see what had happened, which was more worrisome. The Chug Bug was possibly about to ignite and explode on this drought-ridden land where there was no clear exit path out of a dangerous fire’s way for the gathering crowd.
Thrope was the one at fault here. But everyone knew it was my party, my idea . . . and my mess, indeed. Would I go from party hero to party pariah? Had I taunted Thrope into unleashing this destruction? All that beer gone to waste! I feared everyone would blame me—particularly Jake.
It’s true. The beer truck was destroyed and the whole park was in danger of igniting, but my true worry was: Would this incident prevent me from getting some at the end of the night? Yes, I am that shallow.
Unconcerned about the destruction she’d caused, Thrope swaggered off on her warpath without so much as a smug look of self-satisfaction back in my direction. She slung her rifle over her shoulder and walked resolutely to face off against my classmates and the Happies biker gang now descending on the Ravishing Ravine. The founder of the Rancho Soldado Ladies Rifle Club was on the hunt.
“What are you going to do now?” I called to Thrope, but what I was really wondering was where the hell were Slick and Fletch? There was no crisis I couldn’t handle so long as they were on deck with me.
Thrope removed her rifle from its sling and cocked it onto her shoulder. She turned back around to tell me, “I’m putting an end to this party once and for all. It’s time to kill all Happies.”