Disclaimer: I do not own Trixie Belden, nor will this page result in any kind of profit at any point in time.

The ice carnival that the Bob-Whites planned surprised me- I actually enjoyed myself for a few choice moments. Of course, this was mostly when I was skating. I like the feeling of freedom that accompanies gliding across the frozen water, the adrenaline rush that surges through me as the blades on my skates weave patterns, leaving sketches in the ice.

I remember that night. The ice was smooth under my skates, and though the surface was slick, I had no trouble balancing as I hurtled about, never swaying, not for an instant. At that moment, it seemed possible for me to go far, far away and leave my problems behind; whenever I skate, I feel like I gain some sort of inner peace that only emerges when I can focus completely on myself. My anxieties disappear, and I can think clearly, without the anger of my circumstances, or the grief surrounding thoughts of my parents.

The sensation of power and blessed isolation which skating brings is one I've almost forgotten after everything that has happened to me before and after I arrived in Pleasantville. Or Sleepyside; whichever.

I can remember the last time my parents took me ice-skating.

Now, I'm ice-skating with the Bob-Whites. With Trixie Belden, no less.

I don't like her.

Don't look so shocked that I'm not falling in line to lavish her with praise like everyone else- they're so busy worshipping her, they disregard her many, many faults. I've never been one to follow the crowd just to be another mindless, good little sheep, so I'll say it now: the girl is self-righteous and patronizing. I'm not saying she's the spawn of Satan. She's willing to help other people, but only those she deems worthy of aid.

Whether I'm part of their little super-secret club or not, I can't stop thinking about the way Trixie first looked at me when she saw me on the school bus. She sent this glare of challenge and disdain in my direction, then began giggling to her friends about how I dressed, laughing and pointing. She treated me like dirt during those first few days, snarling whenever she saw me and condescending to me as if I were mud on the carpet that needed to be beaten out.

Despite what I told her, she bizarrely continued to believe I was Elijah Maypenny's grandson. Fine, it was incorrect, and I told her that, but it's not like she listened to me. If I was Elijah's grandson, why did she think I was there? Health reasons? Divorcing parents? Dead parents?

Teenagers don't frequently spend extended periods of time at their grandparents' house in the middle of the winter, much less enroll in the local high school. You'd think that with all of her detective intuition, Trixie would recognize that there was something amiss with the situation and lay off the criticism. No such luck: I guess people who wear black leather jackers don't deserve Trixie's kindness.

How ironic that she was the one to tell me the Bob-White motto: "We're all like brothers and sisters, and if one of us is ever in need, then we'll never fail him or her." Right. Considering Mart and his pretentious vocabulary, I wonder if Trixie has ever had the chance to learn the definition of the word "hypocrite."

Then again, I suppose the motto only applies to members of their exclusive club; they feel free to treat strangers any way they wish, apparently.

As for Mart himself, I can almost see us becoming friends. He doesn't seem that bad, even he was a rather reluctant tour guide, but I suppose I wasn't really doing much to change his impression of me. Still, maybe we could work out a sort of camaraderie.

I don't mind him, Diana, or Honey that much. Out of all the club members, they're the only ones I can picture myself talking to or joking around. I know Diana and Mart are still slightly wary of me and my black leather jacket, and I'm wary of Honey, because she's the daughter of my employers, but I think that we'll get along regardless.

On my third day of school, I overheard a couple of teachers talking about me. I guess some parents were calling the school, complaining that they didn't want their kids in a classroom with a "monster" like me. They don't want dirt like me contaminating their sheltered, stupid, spoiled children.

Christ. "Monster." That's funny.

What's their definition of "monster"? I've known some characters from the street who could make these people turn tail and run as fast as possible in the opposite direction.

The teachers didn't think of me as a "monster." No, they just thought of me as generic scum.

Once again, I'm mud on the carpet, dirt crushed beneath the overly-expensive shoes of these wealthy W.A.S.P.s.

I didn't join this club, the Bob-Whites of Stepford, because I'm interested in making amends, or atoning for my crimes, or whatever. I want to move on with my life, to do something besides selling soft narcotics in order to get a meal every few days. And hell, my uncle seems to like these Bob-White kids an awful lot. Maybe if I act like them, he'll actually pay attention to me instead of pretending I don't exist and keeping me stuck in the woods with a wacky old hermit.

If I didn't have this connection to the Bob-Whites, I think he probably would never take an interest in me at all and just follow Trixie's word on everything, including accusing me of every misdemeanor from here to back to Hell's Kitchen.

Oh, Trixie. That rare gem of a girl who would give up hair ribbons for a good tree to climb, who constantly asserts her independence, but always ends up flailing around for Jim's strong male shoulder to lean on. She undermines herself by saying one thing and doing another, claiming she's fine by herself but then using Jim as her crutch.

Other people praise her as "wonderful" and "terrific," as though she's a unique jewel that should be prized by all, when she's actually one of the dime a dozen girls whose dreams will evade them their entire life due to their own self-sabatoge. I'm aware of the inevitable result of Trixie's personality after losing her innocence, her hopefulness, but let me clarify: I take no malicious pleasure in knowing that one day she'll be totally disillusioned.

Sometime or another, sveryone has to come to grips with the cruel circumstances of unwavering reality. At one point, each one of us has to stop pursuing our dreams and accept mediocrity. People have to give up their childhood fantasies and overly-simplified views of right and wrong and just do whatever it takes to survive. Live as a shell, or die as a whole.

(I have no personal experience in the matter.)

But her behavior doesn't surprise me too much; I've noticed that in between falsely accusing me of theft and vandalism, she's drifting about her family's farmhouse, performing domestic tasks.

It would seem that though her parents appear to tolerate her ambitions to be a private investigator, they're covertly preparing her for life as a submissive housewife in this rural Stepford, systematically removing her spiritedness to reduce her to a lackey for her future husband. Maybe it'll be Jim.

Really, I should be able to relate to Jim out of anyone, but I just can't or won't. He's this golden boy- good at sports, an excellent student, a talented woodsman, and generally nice to everyone.

I can't stand him.

When he stood in front me and introduced himself, I could see that he was studying me, but as he talked, he was trying to put me at ease. The implication was clear: he pitied me, and his kindness to me was his good deed for the day.

I felt like punching him in the face instead of shaking his hand, but I had to be civil. After all, it was my boss's son.

As we exchanged the handshake, I felt like I was betraying myself by accepting his charity.

Apparently, Jim was abused for several of his teenage years at the hands of a wicked stepfather. Remarkably, he shows no signs of trauma- beyond his interest in Trixie.

Hear me out. There is no epic "true love" that surrounds those two, only forthcoming pain and unhappiness.

Usually, when a sixteen-year-old boy devotes as much time to a thirteen-year-old girl as Jim does, he only wants one thing- but I don't think Jim wants that from Trixie.

He's aware of her admiration for him. And he likes that. He likes her.

It's not love. Loving someone means you continue to care about them despite their flaws. Jim and Trixie merely idolize each other and refuse acknowledge the other's flaws at all.

He wants to control her. He wants to own her.

He's had so little else to control in his life, so he traps her, telling her that he believes in her one moment, then declaring that whatever task at present is too dangerous for her at the next. He enjoys having her depend on him, because he's scared that she'll one day realize that she can stand on her own and leave him. And then, he'll be alone.

I've watched him. Sometimes I think that he's fundamentally aware that he's playing her, but I don't think even he understands the depth and complexity of his actions and motivations.

I hope to God that I never become personally involved with either of them. I don't want to bear witness to this potentially unhealthy relationship devolving into outright codependence.

But it seems Jim wouldn't have it any other way.

Brian may be quiet, but I know recognize the stance of someone standing back and observing in order to hold full command over the given situation. That's one of the reasons I don't trust him. I could go on about him, how he just exudes authoritativeness and superiority as though he's some sort of designated parent of the group. He also strikes as the type to sell out friends for ideas, the kind who prioritizes the law over his friends.

What's more is that . . . he's just too perfect. He's generous, responsible, honorable (whatever that means to these people), intelligent, rational, level-headed, and conscientious. He's a good older brother, a good student, a good athlete. And it might just be me projecting, but I think he's a tad bit smug about the fact.

He's like the shiny new porcelain, china fresh out of the box. Not a scratch or blemish to be found.

Some of his upstanding reputation has to be engineered, a deliberate cover. No one is that flawless. No one has all positive attributes in lieu of any negative qualities.

If it is a cover, then he'll be trouble for me. Most likely, if he ever finds himself in an undesirable situation, he'll blame "that city kid" for all of his problems.

I have oh so mush to look forward to during my stay in this town.

That's three for three, and normally, I wouldn't bother with the Bob-Whites, but their friendship is kind of like insurance. They're good kids and respected members of the community, which is unusual for teenagers. So when parents of my classmates at the high school try to accuse me of being a "bad influence," I can show my charity cred and let the Bob-Whites defend my honor.

I have no doubt that people will accuse me. Everyone needs a scapegoat, and since in spite of all of their Bible-bopping and morality, no one in this town has a problem treating me like dirt. So why not me?

Mud on the carpet: people want me to vanish without leaving a stain, but no one wants to dirty their lily-white, W.A.S.P.-ish hands by actually completing the unpleasant task of sending me away- be it Regan or those parents, they always want someone else to take on the responsibility.

Compared to polished jewels, gleaming gold, and glossy porcelain, I'm just mud, dirt.


These Bob-Whites have advantages that I don't, which they'll lord over me and mention it in what seems to be in passing but is actually passive-aggressive jibes disguised as casual conversation.

Those advantages won't last forever.

Jewels and gems loose their luster, years gone by wearing down the shine, clumsily forced into barbed settings of rings not suited to them, prior to being lost down the drain and replaced with something less valuable.

(But replaced all the same. Goodbye Trixie; I won't miss you.)

Gold is lost over time, pillaged by thieves, forfeited to circumstance and the unknown, scavenged by those who only appreciate the precious metal's potential wealth, hardly any of it emerging in the beggar's cup.

(All that talk about honor, Jim, where does it get you, especially if you can't deign to practice what you preach? You often say the club members need to earn money themselves to buy amenities. Yet you allow your parents to buy you a speedboat, a car, and a menagerie of animals. I suppose I shouldn't begrudge you those; it's obvious those are gifts Mr. Wheeler buys you out of guilt. After all, he adopted you, but now he can't even be bothered to spend time with you. Tell me, how does that make you feel?)

Porcelain chips at the edges, quickly losing its appeal, only unwrapped and removed from the attic every once in a while, before one day it shatters completely.

(I don't wish you harm, Brian, but I wouldn't mind seeing you and your entitlement taken down a few pegs.)

And dirt will always be present, be it lurking beneath the grass in the earth or contaminating drinking water. Or audaciously staining an otherwise perfect cashmere carpet that can be found in a luxurious manor house situated at the top of hill so its occupants can look down at the mere peasants below them.

(Me? I'll stay in this town, see what it has to offer, play the odds. Good people surround me, people who are generous, despite blatant hypocrisy. Good people are so very easy to manipulate.)

Whichever one it is, dirt is incessant, no matter the best efforts of people trying to get rid of it.

A/N: An anonymous reviewer who read "Capital Vices" asked me to write a Dan/Trixie story. Have no fear, this is not that story. I will write a Dan/Trixie fic in the future, I'm just not sure exactly when. But don't worry, Anonymous, I won't forget about you.