How the other half lives (Tales of Riverdale fan-fiction)

Discussion in 'The Story Board' started by hobbyfan, Feb 9, 2017.

  1. hobbyfan

    hobbyfan Well-Known Member

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    Preamble: After nearly 3 months off, we're back with another Tales of Riverdale story. This one addresses some more societal issues that some of you might be familiar with.

    As always, all characters are copyright Archie Comics except for characters created for this story.
    ====================================

    Prologue: One year ago. Setting: San Francisco.

    Julie Price was packing her suitcase for a winter vacation trip to Vail, where she'd reunite with some of her high school classmates. She checked her lingerie drawer three times, and found that some of her underwear and nylons were missing. Her ex-boyfriend, Dennis Chambers, had moved out two weeks earlier after a domestic dispute, and now, Julie had more reason not to take him back.

    She entered Dennis' old bedroom, and checked the waste basket. There, she found two pairs of pantyhose, torn and stretched out of proportion. A pair of black silk panties laid at the bottom of the basket. Well, what was left of them.

    "Oh! So Dennis didn't have the decency to tell me he took them!", she fumed. "Couldn't be honest with me about any of his 'hobbies'."

    Abruptly, the light went out in the room before Julie could leave. Next instant, all she saw was darkness.
    ===========================
    "Are you sure she'll be here?"

    Archie Andrews and Betty Cooper had arrived in Vail on vacation. Betty had been corresponding with Julie since they had met right before the start of the school year. It was because of Julie that Archie & Betty were in Vail in the first place, with Archie's roommate, Reggie Mantle, tagging along. Julie was being set up as Reggie's date for the trip, as the trio had been apprised of Julie's break with Dennis.

    Presently, a heavy-set woman had reached the hotel's front desk, claiming to be Julie Price, but got into a heated argument with the desk clerk, Louis Dumas, who often would pretend to be a distant descendant of famed author Alexandre Dumas.

    "Your picture ID doesn't match!!", Louis protested as he motioned for security.

    "I'm sorry. I didn't have time to have a new card made before leaving for this trip. I have reservations.", "Julie" replied. Archie & Betty got a good look at "Julie", and Archie winced.

    "Something's happened.", he said. "That's definitely not Julie."

    Betty pulled an old photo out of her purse. It was one of Julie & Dennis, dating back at least a year. Dennis, it happened, had the same build as the "woman" at the desk.

    "Honey, you're right.", she told Archie.

    A few minutes later, the couple did a Google search on Julie, and discovered the truth.

    "She was found in her apartment with a black plastic bag over her head.", Archie said, reading the newspaper article. "Suffocated."

    "Then, Dennis stole her identity for some reason, but what?", Betty asked.

    "I've a bad feeling about this."
    ===========================
    Just what led Dennis to take these drastic steps will be explored in chapter 1.
     
  2. hobbyfan

    hobbyfan Well-Known Member

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    Chapter 1:

    Dennis returned to the hotel around 7 pm MT as himself. His mind raced back to just a few weeks prior, when he realized that he & Julie weren't meant for each other, and that he just didn't feel, in his words, real.

    The memory of a meeting with a psychologist in San Francisco, where he revealed his interest in gender reidentification, and that, in his tortured mind, he identified more as a woman than a man. He thought about starting an online fund to pay for the surgery, but then, he realized, that would tip off Julie that something was wrong, and he didn't want her to know about it at the time. Whenever he was alone in the apartment, and Julie was away for extended periods, he'd try some of her clothes on, or buy some women's clothes for himself. He had to kill her to keep his secret, and he was sure that Julie had already blabbed to her pen pal, Betty. She had to go next.
    ========================
    Reggie cut his vacation trip short when he received a text from his mother. His father had been in an accident following a story, so Reggie checked out after 2 days, and flew home to Riverdale. Archie & Betty decided to follow suit. By the time Dennis had reached the couple's now-empty suite, there was nothing left for him to claim for himself.

    "Gone!", he thought. "They couldn't know."

    But Dennis had no idea where the trio had gone or where they came from.
    =========================
    Now:

    "This is just flat out ridiculous!!"

    Archie had been forced to shave his legs, not that he had much hair on them to start with, as Betty was using a makeup kit.

    "Relax, honey, this is only temporary, based on what Reggie found out when we came home for Christmas break.", she cooed. "Remember that fellow we met in Vail last year, who tried to pass himself off as a woman?"

    "Dennis Chambers. I remember him now.", Archie replied, sliding on a pair of nylons. "Killed his ex-girlfriend and took her place at the hotel, then rabbited shortly after we did."

    "Well, he somehow went through with gender reidentification surgery. You know, what Caitlyn Jenner did about 2 1/2 years ago. A woman matching Chambers' description was at New Dimensions earlier today, looking for work, but got tossed when she tried to shoplift and got caught."

    "In other words, she hasn't lost the weight."

    "Exactly, babe. Reggie found out that Chambers was looking to kill us to preserve his secrets in Vail, me in particular. Probably because he found a couple of the letters I wrote to Julie Price."

    "So he put 2 and 2 together. He needs help, Betty, but by having the surgery, he's taken himself past the point of no return."

    "I agree. Still, it's a threat we can't ignore."

    Betty emerged from her bedroom, dressed in some of Archie's clothes, and used her makeup and hair dye to transform into Archie, while he now dressed in some of her clothes.

    "Veronica & I, you'll recall, swapped identities for a while when we were overseas.", Betty reminded. "All that's left now is to put some makeup on you to finish the job."

    "And a wig.", Archie added. "My hair's not long enough for a ponytail."

    "Which is why I cut mine off before applying the hair dye."
    =========================
    Now answering to Darlene Chamberlain, the former Dennis returned to the modest hotel room she rented. In the bedroom, hotel maid Molly Summers was on the bed, bound & gagged.

    "You'll forgive me for being inhospitable.", Darlene declared. "But this is a private matter that can't be passed like gossip."

    Darlene opened a drawer in her bedroom bureau, and found the picture Julie & Betty had taken when Betty was on summer vacation 18 months earlier. Julie had been crossed out with a red X.

    "Very soon, Betty Cooper, we will meet, and I will be the last person you'll ever see."
    ===========================
    At Frank's Coffee Shop, just before 8 the next morning, Sabrina Spellman took a close look at Betty's handiwork, and shook her head.

    "Should've asked me to help you with this one, roomie.", she said. "A simple spell would simply flip the two of you for the duration."

    "The way they figured it", Reggie put in, "the fewer people to know about this project, the better, but I think Archie realized they needed your help after all."

    "He's right.", Betty chirped. "I don't think the former Dennis Chambers would be so easily fooled with makeup, not after what he's been through."

    "Then, stand by. I can clean this up in a jiffy.", Sabrina said. One quick incantation later, and the back room at Frank's shimmered. Once it was over, Betty's mind was now in Archie's body, and vice versa, and the clothing had been returned to their rightful owners.

    "Now, this makes more sense.", Reggie commented. "But, don't you think Chambers will still figure it out?"

    "Not if we add one more wrinkle.", Sabrina replied.
    ===========================
    Ah, but this is a prey not so easily caught, as the kids will discover in chapter 2.
     
  3. hobbyfan

    hobbyfan Well-Known Member

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    Chapter 2:

    To cover the swapping of Betty's & Archie's minds, the couple left Riverdale to spend winter recess in California. Sabrina and her beau, Harvey Kinkle, went along for the ride, the better for Sabrina to facilitate a necessary cancellation of her spell if things went awry. Harvey had been briefed on the matter, but was worried that Darlene might expand her scope and target him & Sabrina as well.

    Predictably, Darlene followed the two couples back to California, bent on erasing every last vestige of his former identity, and that, in his mind, would include killing Betty, Archie, and, presumably, Sabrina & Harvey.

    At the Hilton Garden hotel in Sacramento, everything seemed to be going well, thanks to a pair of voice modulators which Betty & Archie were carrying.

    While Darlene had simply changed her gender, that was the only thing that had been altered about her. Standing about 6'3", and weighing nearly 280 pounds, she looked exactly the same before the surgery. Dennis' Wanted poster was still on windows and walls throughout Northern California, a year after Julie Price's murder.

    Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the murder was all but a cold case by now, save for the fact that Randall Price, Julie's father, made sure the SFPD stayed on the case, convinced that her killer would return. On February 18, his year of prayers had finally brought some answers when he was called into SFPD HQ.

    "Seems you were right about Dennis Chambers, or, as he is now, Darlene Chamberlain.", Sgt. Leo Preston said. "Just got word from Riverdale, out in Massachusetts, that a hotel maid was found dead, due to suffocation, yesterday. They say the suspect was on a flight headed here this morning."

    "They say the guilty always return to the scene of the crime.", Price replied. "That lunatic wasted nearly 10 years of my life. I said he wasn't good enough for my Julie, but she stuck by him. Then, she finds out his dirty little secret, and he kills her."

    "We'll find him, Mr. Price.", Preston promised.
    ================================
    In Sacramento, Archie & Betty learned of Molly Summers' death from Reggie via e-mail.

    "She died the same way Julie did, via suffocation, except in her case, she was already tied up when she was killed.", Archie noted.

    "Reggie also said Chambers, or whatever he calls himself now, fled, and was headed back out here.", Betty replied. "He's trailing us."

    "And I've got a fix on him.", Sabrina said as she stood in the doorway. "Darlene Chamberlain just left a fetish shop about half a mile from here, carrying a picture of you, Betty."

    "Then he/she's still after me."

    "But we'll get him first.", Archie promised.
    ===============================
    Around 11:30 pm, local time, the two couples left a local dance club. So far, so good. Just before they reached their rental car, however, Darlene appeared, and tossed Harvey into a nearby wall. She then placed a bag over Sabrina's head, and pulled out a gun.

    "Okay, Cooper. You're coming with me, or your roommate suffers the same fate as Julie did a year ago.", she said, pointing the gun right at Betty.

    "Do what he says.", Sabrina said mentally. "I'll be okay."

    Darlene took a zip tie and secured the bag around Sabrina's neck, then did the same with Betty. Harvey recovered, and charged, tackling Darlene, who threw him off. Abruptly, as she rose, she turned, and walked right into a right hook from Archie.

    "I really don't like hitting women, but in your case, I'll make an exception!", the teen said, waiting for Darlene to rise. She tried, but then fell back, as Sabrina & Betty removed their hoods.

    Wrapping his hand in a napkin, Harvey grabbed the gun, and held Darlene at bay until the police arrived.

    "You ok, honey?", Archie asked.

    "I am now.", Betty replied. "Good thing Sabrina cancelled the spell before we went out. I don't think I could bear losing you either way."
    ===========================
    At Police headquarters, Darlene finally confessed. Dennis thought Julie had been cheating on him when in truth, she was taking part in a still life modeling class at school, and was doing some research. He became jealous, but then he realized, too, that he wasn't comfortable as a man, and never was. He wanted to be more like Julie in every way. Problem was, he was having trouble losing weight. He botched it in Vail a year ago, showing up wearing what was left of Julie's clothes and carrying her ID, but he couldn't bring himself to lose the weight. He started an online fundraiser to get the money he needed for the surgery, but even though he was advised to lose the weight, he was perfectly happy with the shape of his/her body, no matter what the gender. Betty needed to be eliminated, because he wanted to erase everyone and everything associated with Julie and his former life. Once her friends got involved, that made his job even more complicated.
    =============================
    A week later, Betty visited Archie & Reggie in New York, and the trio performed at Ricky's Cafe, with Archie promising to make full use of the performance space with the full band later in the summer.

    During intermission, a transgender woman approached Betty.

    "You don't know me, Ms. Cooper, but I've read about how you solved the murder case out in California. Dennis Chambers wasn't really one of us. He was emotionally unstable, according to some friends of mine. Within a year's time, I think he would've taken his own life."

    "And how would you know that?", Betty asked.

    "He stole my name. I'm the real Darlene Chamberlain."

    "He must've found it in a registry somewhere."

    "No, he found my picture in a college yearbook. I used to live in San Francisco and had gender reassignment surgery before my freshman year. I left that yearbook behind when I moved to New York."

    "Then you must've had the apartment before Julie Price did."

    "Yes, I did. I got the yearbook back in the mail today, once the SFPD found out how that fellow took my name."

    "Did you know Julie & Dennis?"

    "Julie, yes. Dennis, vaguely. I was Julie's roommate before I graduated. She wanted to be a mental health counselor, and I was her tutor at home. We stayed in touch until she died a year ago. I'm just thankful that she's finally been avenged."

    "As are we all, Darlene. Thanks for coming tonight."

    "My pleasure. Your boyfriend was tickled pink when I bought a couple of CD's from him before the show."

    "And you told him your story?"

    "Yes. I have to leave now. Believe it or not, I have to work on a Sunday morning."

    "Sometimes, I do, too. Good night, Darlene."
    =================================
    The next morning, before heading back to Boston, Archie & Betty had lunch together.

    "You know, Betts, I can't help but think about Julie after all this time, and after what we learned last night.", he said.

    "I know, honey. And the time we spent, flipping minds, I think I gained a whole new insight into you."

    "As did I. I'm more convinced than ever, babe, that we're meant to be. Once we graduate from college, then we can take the next step."

    "But what about swapping identities again? This time just by swapping clothes?"

    "Only for Halloween, honey. It's safer that way."

    "Couldn't have said it better myself, hon'. I love you."

    "Love you too, baby."
    ====================================
    The end.
     

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