The Carnegie Mansion. 6:15 PM.
I’m so sick of being the smart one, Angie thought. She was trying to get the Carnegie family business manager on the phone, so he could explain why all their money and furniture was gone. The hold music was the chorus of Don’t Stop Believing. Just the chorus, over and over. It had been playing on a loop for 25 minutes.
In the kitchen, her twin sister, Brittany, was shoving mouthfuls of cake into her mouth while examining a jar of mayonnaise. Then, unexpectedly, she dipped her cake-encrusted fingers into the mayo jar and began spreading the mixture of cake crumbs and mayo all over her face.
“Ew, Brittany what are you doing?”
Brittany massaged the mayo into her face with deep concentration. “It revives the complexion,” she said serenely.
Angie gave her sister a disgusted look. If Brittany wanted to revive her complexion, she needed to stop downing tequila shots and sheet cake. The two of them had spent all of high school trying to look exactly alike, mostly because it made boys insane. But today you’d barely know they were twins. Brittany’s hair was greasy and tangled, and there were bits of blue frosting smeared on her scalp. Her eyes were bloodshot and ringed with dark, puffy circles. She looked boozy and haggard and pitiful. When is Brittany going to snap out of it? Angie thought. I can’t be the Carnegie twins all by myself.
Angie checked her watch. She’d been on hold for half an hour now. It was completely unacceptable. She was Angie Carnegie, for God’s sake, and you don’t put a freaking Carnegie on hold.
At that moment, their mother breezed into the room. She looked around at the mess and said, “Hm. I forgot what I came in here for.” She and Brittany were on day five of their Valium-and-tequila-induced mother-daughter-bonding stupor. Mr. Carnegie was in South America refusing to come home, and so it had somehow fallen to Angie to deal with the fact that all the family’s possessions were being stolen by jazz musicians. The furniture was gone, the paintings were gone. The silver was gone, the china was gone. The house felt like a mausoleum. Every sound echoed eerily from the bare marble walls.
The hold music turned off. “Hello? Horace?” Angie said eagerly into the phone.
“Angela, you need to stop calling me. I am no longer acting as your family’s business manager.”
“Please just tell me what’s going on,” she pleaded.
“Honey.” He sighed loudly. “Your dad owed a lot of money to a lot of creeps. Friday night was his last chance, and you blew it.”
“I blew it? Excuse me?”
“You, Brittany, whichever.”
“What are you talking about?”
There was a pause on the other end. “…Didn’t you get my message?”
“About the bridge. About the fucking diamond.”
“Horace, I have no idea—”
Angie stared at the phone in disbelief. She resisted the urge to hurl it across the room. But this phone was the only thing she had left. It was literally her last possession.
“Where’s a damn glass?” Her mother was muttering. She was opening and shutting the kitchen cabinets, a bottle of chardonnay tucked under her arm.
“They took the glassware,” Brittany said, her mouth full of cake.
Angie gritted her teeth. “Mom, I still don’t get why you won’t let us call the police.”
Her mother set the wine on the counter and patted Angie’s head. “Try to understand, darling. Imagine… imagine that you stole a million tubes of lip gloss. And now the Makeup Police are on your tail.”
“So you sell the lip gloss, and you buy lots of nail polish! Then you sell the nail polish, and you buy… shoes! Then you sell the shoes and you buy a pretty sparkly diamond. Then you sell the diamond—”
Suddenly Angie didn’t feel like humoring her mother’s asinine analogy. “Jesus, I know how money laundering works,” she snapped. “What does that have to do with our furniture?”
Her mother sniffed dramatically. “I’m just trying to speak your language!”
“Here, put some mayonnaise on your face,” Brittany suggested, pushing the mayo jar towards Angie. “It’ll relax you.”
Angie gazed at the mayo jar. Why not? She thought. Why not just slather mayonnaise on my face? Nothing I do matters anyway.
It had pretty much been the most stressful weekend of Angie’s life. First she thought Brittany had jumped off the bridge in her mascot suit and died. Then it turned out, that no, someone had spiked Brittany’s pink Gatorade with a ludicrous amount of vodka, and she’d been passed out in a bush behind the stadium. Then on Saturday a jazz band showed up at the house with a moving van and a cake with the words CONGRATS UR BROKE in blue frosting. Then, without any explanation, they began systematically taking apart the entire house. So that’s how the Carnegie ladies had spent their weekend: eating crappy sheet cake and watching all their possessions being hauled away by jazz musicians.
In the kitchen, Brittany continued to massage cake and mayonnaise into her pores. Their mother was staring at her chardonnay, clearly considering whether it would be beneath her to swig it straight from the bottle.
Suddenly she couldn’t stand another second in this empty house with her mother and sister self-destructing before her eyes.
“I’m getting out of here,” she said.
“But they took the Lexus,” Brittany said.
“I don’t care. I’ll take the gardener’s truck.”
“But wait, where are you going?”
“I’m getting our stuff back.” Angie grabbed the phone and stormed out of the house, not even bothering to close the door behind her.
Old Mill Road. 7:30 PM.
Virginia sat in the passenger seat of Mrs. Flax’s car. Benny had insisted that she sit in the front. He probably thought he was being gentlemanly, but Virginia wished he would just be a normal guy for once. It must a Jewish thing, Virginia thought. Benny was the most well-mannered boy in school; he was also the only Jew. It seemed like there was probably a connection. In any case, Virginia wished Benny had sat in the front with his mom, even if it wasn’t the polite thing to do. Mrs. Flax was incredibly scary, and Virginia was having a hard time coming up with conversation points.
“So…Yom Kippur’s coming up soon….”
Mrs. Flax gave Virginia a quick, menacing look, before turning her attention to Benny in the back seat. “Shouldn’t you be using this time to study for your science test?”
“I’m pretty sure the test is canceled,” Benny said.
“They canceled everything,” Virginia added.
Mrs. Flax frowned. “I thought Riverside was a serious school.”
“Well, everybody’s pretty freaked out…” Virginia said meekly.
Mrs. Flax pursed her lips, appearing to concentrate on the road. The entire school was in an uproar, but Mrs. Flax was clearly unimpressed.