FIFTY-SIX - Buddha and the Barking Spider

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I am not a religious person, so I don't really know all that much about Gods or deities or heavenly protectors. But I do like the idea of Patron Saints. I especially like that we're all supposed to have our own personal P.S. watching over us. How cool is that? So, after another day of working on the barn (and yes, I was still on nail duty...not going there), I consulted, yet again, the Oracle of Google, and, holy crap, there is a saint for almost everyone and everything! There's Vitus, the Patron Saint of Snake Bites; Hedwig, the Patron Saint of Bald People (wait till I tell Dad), and St. Clare, the Patron Saint of Television, just to mention a few. (I think they must add new saints on a fairly regular basis. I'm sure they'll be a Patron Saint of Snapchat any day now.)

What I want to know, though, is if there's a Patron Saint of Just Desserts? I'm not talking about dessert-desserts, like crème brûlée (which, by the way, is just a fancy way of saying custard)-no, I'm talking about a saint who actually sees to it that assholes get what's coming to them. And when I say assholes, of course I'm referring to Jett Black. Because here's what happened.

Scarlet called Ivy this this morning and invited us both to her place tonight for pizza. Go figure. I mean, it's not like we all hang out or anything, but still, I was up for it, because it meant getting away from Jett. Or so I thought.

I thought wrong.

Take Jett with you, honey, Mom said. Wonderful, Dad said. You kids go have ALL the fun, Misty said. Norm didn't say anything, but he knew; I could tell.

Mom drove us to Scarlet's, and when we got out of the car she looked at me with a pained expression and said, "Just try to have fun, okay, Myles? Please? Do it for me?" Then she smiled and looked at Jett and Ivy and rolled her eyes. Jett rolled his back. Ivy looked at her shoes. I gave Mom a sarcastic thumbs up, capped off with a cheesie grin.

Mrs. Stevens, Scarlet's mom answered the door. Her hair was even bigger than it had been on New Years' Eve, and she was wearing pink-tinted sunglasses. In the house. In February.

We followed her into the kitchen, where Scarlet's father-still boiled-looking-stood holding a bottle of gin in one hand, and a giant tumbler full of ice in the other. He was extra red in the face and didn't even bother to say hello. Instead, he poured almost half the bottle of gin into his glass and pushed past us toward the hallway.

Mrs. Stevens opened her mouth to say something but Mr. Stevens held up his finger and said, "Don't push me, Teresa." And then he left.

I don't know what they'd been fighting about but it felt damn uncomfortable in that oak and granite kitchen, that is, until Scarlet breezed in all smiling and chit-chatty. She kind of herded us downstairs, even though I think Jett would have rather stayed in the kitchen staring at the "Live, Love, Laugh," T-shirt Mrs. Stevens had somehow managed to squeeze into. I know. Creepy, right? She's like, 40.

When we got to the rec room, I realized our pizza party was going to be bigger than I'd originally thought. Lincoln was there, sprawled out on the floor looking at some dog-eared vintage Swimsuit Illustrated issue, and Gemma and Arden, Scarlet's sub-par friends, were watching a K-pop video that involved confetti and an inflatable pink rabbit. Lincoln grunted, but the girls didn't even say hello. And then they noticed Jett. After that, there was a whole lot of hair twirling and over-the-top giggling. Why do girls do that? It's super annoying.

Jett, however, was in estrogen heaven, and immediately launched into some serious "Arrogant Dance" pelvic-thrusty moves that made me feel kind of greasy, and in about three seconds flat, Scarlet, Gemma and Arden had him circled like he was some kind of prize bull. Ivy, I'm happy to say, looked away and began picking the nail polish off her thumb. I think she is beginning to see through Jett's shallow veneer. It's about time!

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