Christina’s eyebrows rose to her hairline.
“Well, fine, I forgot to turn the water off. But that shouldn’t have caused the whole system to break down.”
“Musta been the storm,” John Number Two said. “Probably burst one of the outside pipes.”
John Number One grunted. “Just about got it. If I could only”—more grunts—“get this one valve . . . durn it!”
A stream of water nailed him between the eyes, and I clapped my hand to my mouth.
“Don’t think you got it,” John Number Two observed.
The water chugged from the pipe. Christina looked like she was about to cry.
“Oh God, I am so sorry,” I said. “Please make your face go back to normal. Please?”
“Why, look at that,” John Number Two said.
The gurgling sounds slowed. A drop of water trembled on the rim of the pipe, then sploshed to the floor. After that, nothing.
“It stopped,” I said in amazement.
“I disconnected the main line,” John Number Three announced, emerging from the back room with a towel.
“You did? That is so cool!” I exclaimed.
He tossed the towel to John Number One, who dabbed at his pants.
“You’re supposed to mop the floor, not your pants,” John Number Two said.
“I already did mop the floor,” John Number One grouched. “With my pants.”
“I better call an actual plumber,” Christina said. “And Addie . . . I think you should take your break.”
“Don’t you want me to help clean up?” I said.
“I want you to take your break,” she said.
“Oh,” I said. “Um, yeah, sure. That’s what I was going to do before, but then Crazy Travis showed up, and then Crazy Mayzie—”
She pointed toward the back room.
“It’s just that you were the one who asked me to stay. I mean, who cares, right? But it was—”
“Addie, please,” Christina said. “Maybe it isn’t about you this time, but it sure feels like it. I need you to go.”
We stared at each other.
I jumped and headed for the back room.
“Don’t worry,” John Number Three said as I passed him. “She’ll be over it by the next time you break something.” He winked, and I smiled wanly.
I sloughed off my wet shirt and borrowed a new one from the shelf. It was for Starbucks’ DoubleShot and read, BRING ON THE DAY. Then I fished my cell from my cubby and punched in Dorrie’s speed dial.
“Hola, cookie,” she said, picking up on the second ring.
“Hi,” I said. “Do you have a minute? I’ve had the weirdest day, and it just keeps getting weirder, and I have got to talk to someone about it.”
“Did you get Gabriel?”
“I said, did you get—” She broke off. When she spoke again, her voice was overly controlled. “Addie? Please tell me you remembered to go to Pet World.”
My stomach slammed down to my feet, like an elevator whose cables broke. I quickly closed my phone and grabbed my coat from the hook. As I was leaving, my phone rerang. I knew I shouldn’t answer, I knew I shouldn’t answer . . . but I gave in and answered anyway.
“Listen,” I said.
“No, you listen. It’s ten thirty, and you promised Tegan you’d go to Pet World at nine o’clock on the dot. There’s no excuse you can give that’ll justify why you’re still at Starbucks futzing around.”
“That’s not fair,” I argued. “What if . . . what if an iceberg fell on my head and left me in a coma?”
“Did an iceberg fall on your head and leave you in a coma?”
I pressed my lips together.
“Uh-huh, well, let me ask you this: Whatever your reason really is, does it have to do with you and some ridiculous new crisis?”
“No! And if you’d stop attacking me and let me tell you all the weird stuff that’s happened to me, you’d understand.”
“Do you even hear yourself?” she said incredulously. “I ask if it’s about some new crisis, and you say ‘No, and by the way, let me tell you about my new crisis.’”
“I didn’t say that.” Did I?
She exhaled. “Not cool, Addie.”
My voice went small. “Okay, you’re right. But, um . . . it has been an unusually bizarre day, even for me. I just want you to know that.”
“Of course it was,” Dorrie said. “And of course you forgot about Tegan, because it’s always, always, always about you.” She made an impatient sound. “What about the sticky note that said Do Not Forget Pig? Didn’t that ring any bells for you?”
“An old lady stole it from me,” I said.
“An old lady . . . ” She broke off. “Yeah, uh-huh. It’s not that you spaced it; an old lady had to steal it from you. It’s The Addie Show all over again. Every channel, every network.”
That stung. “It’s not The Addie Show. I just got sidetracked.”
“Go to Pet World,” Dorrie said, sounding tired. She hung up.
Sunlight glinted on the snow as I hurried down the road and over to Pet World. The sidewalks were mostly clear, but there were spots here and there where the shoveled-off drifts had crumbled down, and my boots made oomph sounds as I trudged through those deeper stretches.
As I oomphed, I kept up a running monologue inside my brain about how The Addie Show was not on every channel. The Addie Show wasn’t on the monster-truck channel, and it wasn’t on the pro-wrestling channel. It most certainly wasn’t on whatever channel aired Let’s Go Fishing with Orlando Wilson, and I was tempted to call Dorrie back and tell her that. “Is it called Let’s Go Fishing with Adeline Lindsey?” I’d say. “Why, no! It’s not!”
But I didn’t, because no doubt she’d find a way to turn that into an example of my being self-absorbed, too. Worse, she’d probably be right. A better plan was to get Gabriel in my hot little hands—well, my cold little hands—and then call Dorrie. I’d say, “See? It turned out okay.” And then I’d call Tegan and let Gabriel oink into the phone or something.
Or, no. I’d call Tegan first, to spread the joy, and then I’d call Dorrie. And I wouldn’t say, “Ha-ha,” because I was bigger than that. Yeah. I was big enough to admit my wrongs, and I was big enough to stop cowering when Dorrie scolded me, since the new, enlightened me would need no scolding.