Exactly one week after the embarrassing incident of falling down the steps, Maybelline knew she needed a vacation. Of course, when your cousin Ben, who is also the police chief of Aberdeen, strongly encourages you to get out of town and ‘cool off,’ or get arrested, Maybelline knew it was time to leave.
The joke was on Ben, though. Maybelline hadn’t been cool at all in Florida. Just like the sun that beat down on the scorching beaches, Maybelline had simmered the whole time she was there.
She had taken her friend April with her, thinking April would help take her mind off John and Jenny. Come to find out, April wasn’t so good at diversion. Maybelline realized that on the flight to Florida.
“I heard Jenny’s going to New York City for a bit . . .” April told Maybelline.
“Really?” Maybelline replied, feigning interest as she flipped a page of the magazine she was looking at. “Why would she go there? Not enough relationships to break up in Aberdeen?”
April leaned into Maybelline and whispered. “Well, I heard it on good authority that she’s going there to get a wig.”
Now this was news. Maybelline snapped the magazine shut. “Really? Why would she do that?”
April rolled her eyes. “After the great Papa’s Pizza incident?”
Maybelline glared at April. It was one thing to discuss the fight. It was quite another to actually name it.
“It wasn’t that great!” Maybelline snapped.
“You nearly ripped out all of Jenny’s hair!” April shot back. “And that was after you jumped on her back and shoved her face into that pizza. You know she’s allergic to anchovies.”
“Yeah, well Father Frank shouldn’t have ordered anchovies and Jenny shouldn’t have come into Papa’s Pizza,” Maybelline answered, without a hint of regret. “I warned the town I was a woman on edge!”
“I don’t think you should be mad at Jenny, though,” April told her.
Maybelline snapped her attention to April. “Didn’t I just tell you I was a woman on edge?”
April hands flew upward. “Don’t get upset. I’m just saying it’s John you should blame. He’s the one who cheated on you.”
Maybelline hated it when April was right. After all, as much as she hated that stupid Jenny Pickler, she had to be honest and lay the blame where the blame was due and that was all on John’s lap. She tapped her fingers on the magazine, staring unseeing out the plane window.
“I just wish I had one more chance to get back at them . . .” Maybelline grumbled as the plane landed on the tarmac.
But April’s comment made Maybelline rethink her position. Maybe she was too content. Maybe Jenny hadn’t been the problem but herself. It was a lot to think about.
Fortunately, Maybelline had plenty of time to consider it, seeing as they had to drive a good hour every day just to reach the beach. Apparently, Maybelline’s sister Janet couldn’t afford beach front property. Or even near-beach front property. Or property within fifty miles of the beach, for that matter.
It didn’t take Maybelline long to figure out what she needed to do. When they finally reached the wide, expansive ocean with the soft waves and the white beaches, Maybelline made her decision official.
“That’s it, I’m going to do it.”
April spread out her beach towel on the warm sand before asking, “Do what?”
“I’m going to start running,” Maybelline said.
Maybelline was true to her word. She started running the very next day. It wasn’t easy. She could barely make it to the corner of her sister’s street on her first attempt. But she didn’t quit and by the end of the week she was making it around the block. Sure, her legs had felt like rubber and she thought her lungs were going to explode, but she’d made it a full half mile and in Maybelline’s opinion that was a good start.
While she and April were gone, neither called Aberdeen. Not only were they too busy, but Maybelline had put a moratorium on any gossip from home. While Maybelline wasn’t necessarily opposed to gossip per se, she much preferred to be a participant in the gossip and not the subject of it. And right now, Maybelline knew she, John and Jenny were gossip du jour. In hindsight, she regretted her lack of news from home. Maybe then she wouldn’t have been caught by surprise her first morning back.
It happened before Maybelline even knew what was going on. One minute she was out for her morning run, gasping for breath and having a delusional moment of eating ice cream on a warm Florida beach, and the next she was thrown into an ice hardened snow drift.
At first, she thought Crazy Eddie Jeffers had attacked her. Everyone knew it was only a matter of time before Eddie went from only semi-crazy to full blown nuts. Jumping out of a bush and throwing himself at her was a little uncalled for though, in Maybelline’s opinion.
It took Maybelline less than two heartbeats to realize it wasn’t Crazy Eddie on her back. Of course, the two helicopters flying overhead and the five rifles pointed at her face certainly helped her come to that conclusion.
Maybelline realized what was happening. That stupid Jenny Pickler had called the government and demanded they come and arrest her. As much as Maybelline didn’t want to do it, she knew the only way she could get out of this mess was to admit the truth.
“Okay, fine! I did it. I meant to get into a fight with Jenny Pickler!” Maybelline cried out as the commander snapped handcuffs on her wrists. “But she started it . . . “
Her words died in her throat when she saw Ben push his way into the circle. He didn’t look happy. In fact, he looked downright furious.
“They’re not here to arrest you for that,” Ben snapped as he walked over to the commander.
Maybelline’s eyes widened. “They’re not?”
A sound of exasperation erupted from Ben. “No. They think you’re a terrorist.”
She noticed the crowds then. They filled the park and All Saint’s Church steps. Some were laughing. Some were down on their knees in prayer. But all of them were looking at her with a mixture of laughter and disbelief.
If that wasn’t mortifying enough, Maybelline noticed the reporter standing just off to the side of her. A cameraman stood next to the reporter, his camera focused directly onto Maybelline as the reporter said something. Great! Now she was on T.V? This was not the way she wanted to get her fame!
“To be fair,” Mabel Maple said pulling Maybelline’s attention away from the reporter. “They don’t think you’re a terrorist as much as they think you’re bringing the end of the world.”
“That’s not any better!” Maybelline cried out as Ben pulled the commander aside and explained the situation to him.
Finally, after what seemed like an interminable amount of time, the commander removed the handcuffs from Maybelline’s wrists as the rifles were removed from her face. It was in that moment Maybelline really, really, really wished she’d taken her vacation this week and not last week. Maybe then she wouldn’t be facing this humiliation in front of the whole town.
Things didn’t get any better for Maybelline. Her once iron-clad determination to lose weight evaporated the minute the crowds dissipated. She grabbed April’s hand and dragged to her Papa’s Pizza.
“Just what do you think you’re doing?” April demanded.
“Getting pizza and so are you,” Maybelline returned.
April stopped and dropped her hand to her hip. “Maybelline Jordan, I thought you were determined to lose weight and show that Jenny Pickler!”
“I just had a guy throw himself at me and trust me, that was not the way I wanted it.”
“But that guy was hot and his body was amazing!” April argued. “And you’re single. I’d think you’d be all for that.”
“Normally I would,” Maybelline agreed. “But let’s face it, his introduction sucked.”
By Saturday, not only was the whole incident the newest topic of the day, but Maybelline found out people were taking bets on what she would do next.
On Sunday, she skipped church and headed straight to Dainty Donut’s. She’d rather eat a grape filled donut or two and gain a half pound than see she the laughter on the faces of the people at All Saint’s Church. In the end, it didn’t solve anything but her eating four donuts instead of two and gaining a full pound instead of a half. And still, the town was gossiping about her!
Maybelline considered skipping work on Monday. After all, she had a good excuse. At least she thought humiliation and mortification was a good excuse. But seeing as she’d just taken a week off, she didn’t think Mr. Williamson, the principal at Aberdeen High would be quite as understanding.
As soon as she stepped into her office, and Mr. Williamson popped his head inside, Maybelline knew she’d made a bad decision.
“Good morning, Dooms.”
Maybelline’s head snapped up. “Did you just call me boobs?”
Mr. Williamson’s face turned bright red. “Good Heavens, no! I called you Dooms. You know . . .doomsday . . .”
Maybelline’s brows shot downward. “Dooms! Now that’s just wrong,” Maybelline sniffed. She’d rather he’d called her boobs.
On Thursday, Maybelline knew she had to do something. She’d eaten her way through Burger, Burger, Burger, Tiny’s Taco’s, and Candi’s Candies. But tonight, she vowed she was going to eat something healthy.
She was driving her rusted out, beat up old clunker to Stop ‘n Shop to purchase some vegetables when she spotted John’s truck driving down St. James Street. If that wasn’t bad enough, she thought she saw a head of blonde hair riding in the passenger seat of the truck.
“That stupid Jenny Pickler!” Maybelline ground out as she pressed her foot to the gas pedal.
Suddenly, her car hit an ice patch and started to skid. Maybelline grabbed hold of the wheel. She noticed the snow drift just as John’s truck crossed in front of her path. Maybelline closed her eyes and said a quick prayer that she’d hit her mark.
By the time her car stopped, people were out on the sidewalk in droves, drawn by the sound of squealing tires and crunching metal. With shaking hands, Maybelline pushed open her car door and stepped out just as Ben rushed up to her. A mixture of fury and fear lined his face.
“Are you okay?” he asked. When Maybelline nodded her head. The worry evaporated from Ben’s face leaving only fury. “That’s good because I’m going to kill you!”
Maybelline’s mouth dropped open. “Kill me? Why?”
Ben wasn’t in the mood for Maybelline’s denial. “Because you purposely aimed for John’s truck.”
Maybelline looked in the direction of Ben’s finger. There was her beat-up, rusted out car, crumpled like an accordion into the side of John’s brand new truck.
“I did not!” Maybelline protested. “I hit that patch of ice and lost control. I tried to hit that snow bank!”
Ben looked from the ice patch to the snow bank to John’s ruined truck then back to Maybelline. He didn’t know whether to believe her or not. He was about to question her further, only his attention was pulled away by the sounds of sirens coming down the street. He blew out a breath of frustration as he left to intercept the fire department.
Maybelline’s attention was pulled away from Ben when Jenny Pickler climbed out of John’s truck and began to scream, “You did this on purpose, Maybelline!”
Maybelline didn’t bother to acknowledge Jenny’s accusation. But a smile as broad as the dent in John’s truck split her face and a feeling of exhilaration filled her as she walked away from the accident. Maybelline guessed the saying was true. Revenge was best served cold.