November 8, 2016
SVT #70, Psychic Sisters: Fakers Gonna Fake, Fake, Fake, Fake, Fake
Summary: The morning after a movie marathon the twins tried to stay up for, Steven finds his sisters asleep on the couch in the den. Alice is on the phone in the kitchen, trying to book a conference room (preferably the George Washington Room) at the Regent Hotel for a black-tie even for 317 people on either the 15th or 28th of the month. Ned tells Steven that he watched part of the marathon (including a movie where Johnny Buck, who must now be both a rock star and an actor, played a hero in the French Revolution) but got annoyed because they kept showing ads for Corny-Os cereal. Coincidentally, Corny-Os is exactly what both twins wake up wanting to eat, even though they haven’t had it for a while. Very strange…
At school, everyone has to pick a topic for a history paper, and the twins both pick the French Revolution. Jessica thinks it’s funny that, for the second time, they’ve had the same idea at the same time. Elizabeth just brushes it off. At lunch, the Unicorns, Elizabeth, and Amy discuss an upcoming talent show. Ellen is doing the spotlight performance, even though she can’t sing and Janet’s worried that her lack of talent will make the Unicorns look bad. Amy thinks the twins should enter with a psychic sister act. Clearly, since they had the same ideas a couple of times, they’re psychic.
Suddenly everyone’s interested in a demonstration of the twins’ abilities. Jessica loves the attention, of course, and Liz decides to go along because she thinks they’ll just quickly disprove the theory and move on. But when the twins are told to write down a number between 1 and 400 hundred, they both pick 317. When told to think of a president, they both think of Washington. Then Liz guesses that Jess is thinking of the number 28. Bruce suggests that they go for something more complicated – they should both think of a color and an item of clothing. Both girls think of a black tie.
Jess takes advantage of her newfound abilities to give people advice. For example, she warns Denny Jacobson to look both ways before he crosses the road. Elizabeth doesn’t like the idea of Jess pretending to be psychic, but she can’t really argue with that kind of suggestion. Jessica thinks they should keep having fun with their new parlor trick, especially if it leads to a role in the documentary Randy Mason’s uncle is making about psychics. Plus, now the talent-show committee wants to make the twins the star performers. Liz tries to decline, but since the show’s proceeds are going to charity, she can’t say no.
At school, Denny tells Jess that a car came the wrong way down his one-way street, so if he hadn’t listened to her and looked both ways before crossing, he would have been hit. Jessica thinks she might really be psychic after all. Randy’s uncle is coming to town soon, but Randy isn’t sure the twins are interesting enough for the documentary. Jess wins him over with a story about knowing Elizabeth was locked in the basement when the twins were younger; it was flooding, and Jessica was able to save her from drowning. Randy thinks this will be enough to make his uncle want to interview the twins. Oh, by the way, the documentary is about phony psychics and how the police hate them because they make real psychics look bad. Yeah, I don’t think that’s why the police hate them. Jessica doesn’t think the twins have anything to worry about, since obviously, they’re really psychic.
Elizabeth disagrees – Jess’ story about saving her never happened. In fact, Jessica knew Liz was in the basement because she locked her down there. Heh. I don’t know why that makes me laugh. There was barely any water down there either. Elizabeth is worried about the whole thing, but Jessica wins her over with her eagerness to practice their act for the talent show. Liz sends Jess the psychic message to smooth her hair, and when Jess does it (after, like, five minutes), Elizabeth thinks there might be something to this psychic business after all.
Before going out of town for a few days, Alice asks Elizabeth to take a check to the Regent Hotel so she can secure the conference room. Liz totally forgets about it and has a nightmare about the whole event falling apart. Everyone in the dream is wearing a black tie – all 317 of them. Dream Alice tells Liz that she went through a lot trying to book either the 15th or the 28th. When Elizabeth wakes up, she realizes why she and Jess had all the same thoughts. They must have unconsciously heard Alice on the phone, talking about the event.
Liz shares her revelation with Jessica, who’s disappointed that they’re not really psychic…but not so disappointed that she’s not going to keep up the act for the talent show. Why be honest when you can keep getting loads of attention? Jess barely even blinks when Randy talks about how horrible fake psychics are, and how his uncle helps the FBI put them in jail. She just decides to approach things from a different angle. She asks Maria, who once did a movie about a fake psychic (how convenient!), to help the twins put together an act that will fool everyone.
At first Elizabeth agrees, thanks in part to Jessica turning on the fake tears, but then she changes her mind. The twins fight, then have dreams about getting busted on stage. This is enough to make Elizabeth change her mind back. When the twins learn that Randy’s uncle is going to come film the talent show for his documentary, Elizabeth almost rechanges her mind, but Jess and Maria help her feel better about communicating on stage without words. They make up hand gestures and facial expressions that correspond to letters so they can silently spell out words. They have to practice a ton to get everything down, and they’re worried that they’ll seem obvious, but at this point, there’s no going back.
On Friday, just before the talent show, Liz takes the check to Mr. Peters, the manager of the Regent Hotel. The hotel is being renovated, and all the workers are off for a few weeks, so it’s basically deserted. Mr. Peters is planning to leave right after he gets the check. After she’s handed it over, Elizabeth starts to take the elevator back down, but it’s slow, so she decides to take the stairs. Unfortunately, the doors are all locked. With Mr. Peters gone, there’s no one in the building to let Liz out. Not only will she miss the talent show, but she’ll be trapped in the stairwell until Monday.
Jessica makes it to school for the show but has no idea what’s keeping her sister, who said she’d be there right after she dropped off the check. Jess worries that Liz’s conscience made her back out of the act. She does feel a little better when Ellen loses her voice just before the show, which means she won’t embarrass the Unicorns. But when show time rolls around, Jessica has to take the stage by herself.
Jess plans to just apologize to the audience and explain that Elizabeth isn’t there, but suddenly she realizes that something must be wrong. No matter how guilty Liz felt about the act, she wouldn’t just ditch Jess without an explanation. Jess figures that something happened at the hotel to keep Elizabeth from making it to school. While Liz tries to psychically communicate with her twin, hoping that there’s some ability there after all, Jess pretends to receive a message from Elizabeth begging for rescue.
Mr. Mason films as Jessica hams it up, then tells her parents that, for real, something’s wrong. They all head over to the hotel and free Elizabeth. There’s a kind of funny bit where Mr. Mason narrates what’s going on (I don’t think his documentary is going to be Oscar-caliber) but gets annoyed when Jessica tries to direct things. Once Elizabeth has been rescued, she admits to Jess that she tried to send a psychic message. Jess is thrilled to play this up for the camera. The story makes it onto the local news broadcast, so even if the twins aren’t featured in the documentary, at least they got to be on TV. They decide their days of being “psychic” are over. I’m sure it won’t be long before Jess comes up with a new wacky scheme to get some more attention.
Thoughts: Jessica: “I’m not sure I have enough clothes to be famous.” Heh.
The fact that Jessica has learned to cry on cue is really scary.
Suddenly Amy’s an excellent gymnast. Who knew?
When Ellen loses her voice, she blames Jessica, accusing her of being a witch. That would have been a much more interesting book.