Dear Wendy : Bland Name, Deep Film

Posted by: Michael

Dick Dandelion is an American teenager who has lived in the rural Southern working-class town of Estherslope for all of his young life. Day in and day out he watches as fathers and sons file to work in the coal mines, a relentless sameness that causes Dick to wonder if there is something greater out there for him.

One day he becomes enchanted by a toy gun he spots in the window of the general store on the town’s Electric Park Square. He purchases it as a gift for a friend’s birthday. But Dick, a self-identified pacifist, cannot bear to give his friend a firearm as a present. Unable to exchange the gun, Dick keeps it for himself. He comes to enjoy how the object feels smooth and nice in his pocket. He finds it beautiful. Soon after, his father dies, leaving Dick alone and worried for his future. He forgets about the gun and submits to the daily grind.

In order to escape a life in the mines, Dick takes a job at the general store, alongside co-workers Stevie and Susan, both fellow outsiders. After hearing from Stevie the paranoid local rumors of armed gangs preying on Estherslope and its surroundings, Dick discovers that his gun is hardly a toy – it’s a 6.65 mm double-action revolver that fires real bullets. He starts carrying the weapon around with him, even firing it with Stevie in a forgotten shaft of the local mine. His friend is as enamoured of guns as Dick.

Dick christens his gun Wendy after Stevie insists it looks like a gun that might belong to a woman. In no time he comes to view Wendy as his best friend, carrying it to work with him during the day and firing it in the mines until he becomes an expert shot. Soon Dick’s confidence is transformed. He receives a promotion at work. He develops a swagger. He begins to see Electric Square as his self-appointed turf, with Stevie as its co-protector. They are losers no more.

These self-described "pacifists with guns" seek out new converts – fellow Estherslope misfits including Susan and the siblings Freddy and Huey – who together soon become known as The Dandies. The Dandies are a close-knit social experiment that Dick hopes will help them all become happier and more confident – a fellowship based around arms.

The shooting gallery in the mine becomes a clubhouse known as The Temple, replete with secret signs, hand signals and drunken initiation rites, as the Dandies’ begin to immerse themselves in the all-consuming joy of guns and gunplay. They study American history and forensic science and the pathology of a bullet’s trajectory in order to give their pacifism a context. They make a solemn vow to carry their guns with them at all times without ever brandishing them in public.

During target practice in the mines, away from the prying eyes of Etherslope locals, the Dandies develop wildly inventive new styles of shooting, including complicated ricochet techniques and flamboyant firing positions. They begin to dress in outfits that reference the styles of the Old American West and the Edwardian Dandies, whose wit and swagger cut a handsome swath through 19th century high culture.

Confident in their newfound collective swagger, the Dandies begin taking to the streets of Estherslope, arousing the suspicion of nosy Officer Krugsby, who persuades Dick to serve as a mentor to the recently paroled Sebastian, a local thug and parolee who is the son of the Dandelions’ former maid Clarabelle.

Dick tries to make a pacifist out of Sebastian – who is a convicted killer -- by indoctrinating him into the peace-loving Dandies. Sebastian is reluctant to join until he’s offered a gun; in turn, he introduces the Dandies to the thrill of semi-automatic weapons. Susan develops a crush on Sebastian and his exoticism, which makes Dick jealous. Soon Sebastian’s popularity becomes too much to bear – never mind that he’s a much better shot than Dick.

Then Sebastian breaks a major Dandy rule: never touch another member’s gun. After Sebastian touches Wendy, Dick casts him out of the fold, even after the other Dandies beg Dick to let Sebastian stay. Dick retreats into solitude, questioning his life once again, until Sebastian coaxes him back into the fold.

In order to re-establish the fortitude of the Dandies, Dick sets about organizing an exercise whereby the Dandies accompany the mentally fragile Clarabelle – who is convinced that gangs have taken over Estherslope – across Electric Square so she can pay a visit to her cousin. But Clarabelle becomes paranoid and fires on a police officer with a rifle hidden in her coat.

The Dandies retreat to The Temple and plot their next move while Officer Krugsby rallies his troops against the gun-crazy Dandies. A tense standoff ensues as the police hold Clarabelle in exchange for the Dandies’ relinquishment of their weapons. But Krugsby goes back on his word, prompting the Dandies to barricade themselves in their lair once again. Krugsby confiscates Wendy in the process, offering Dick no choice but to ascend to the surface to reclaim his only love.

The Dandies don their costumes, amass copious firepower and descend on Electric Square, primed for battle. A police marshal tries to maintain order but is quickly felled by a Dandy’s bullet. A sniper fires on Huey in retaliation; Stevie’s ricochet prowess takes down the sniper. Electric Square erupts in a full-blown siege as each of the Dandies goes out in a proverbial blaze of glory, with Dick ultimately expiring from a bullet fired at the hand of Sebastian – out of the chamber of none other than his beloved Wendy.

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