From Spectacularly Broken (PG-rated excerpt)
Breakfast reminded me of eating in the company of my dad at home, when we sat on opposite ends of the dining-room table and each pretended the other didn’t exist. Green group managed just about the same level of awkward. I supposed we made a passable dysfunctional family as we sat there, staring at our food and trying to out-mute the others.
Great. Nicky was the poster child for ADHD, Lexa didn’t speak, Jarett snored and stole my food, and Cai was just a jerk. And I still preferred their company to that of my dad.
To top it all off, after breakfast it was green group’s turn to help with cleanup. I had no idea what that was even supposed to mean until we were ushered into the industrial kitchen with its carts of dirty dishes. And once the realization hit me, I could only stare in complete disbelief.
I, Lysander Shepherd, was about to be forced to touch other people’s germs and saliva and chewed-up food remains.
Oh hell to the no.
“Who’s washing, and who’s drying?” Jarett asked and went to start filling the enormous metal sink with water. I couldn’t believe he wouldn’t even put up a fight.
“I don’t think I’m tall enough to get my hands in there,” Nicky pointed out. “I can throw in the dirty stuff from the cart, though. Then two of you can wash, and two can dry. Easy peasy.”
“I got long sleeves on.” Cai plucked his black turtleneck. “And so does Lexa. We’ll dry.”
“All right, I guess we’ll be washing, then,” Jarett said and looked at me.
My temper started brewing up a storm.
First of all, I was ticked off that Cai did stupid sh*t like wear a black turtleneck in the summer in his misguided attempt to look like a badass and was going to be rewarded for it by being allowed to keep his hands dry. Second of all, why the f*ck didn’t this pathetic excuse for a summer camp have enough staff to wash the goddamn dishes? Or, you know, some newfangled invention like a dishwasher? I mean, seriously, what the hell? And then third, as I backed away from the soap-and-water-filled sink, I brushed against Cai and realized that he smelled like cigarettes.
The f*cker had cigarettes, and I didn’t.
It seemed like the perfect time to flip my sh*t.
I backed up some more and pointed at the sink. “F*ck that. F*ck that! I’m not putting my hands in there. That’s disgusting. And unhygienic.”
“It’s dish washing,” Jarett said, looking confused.
“Stop being a f*cking baby,” Cai growled. I spun to face him.
“You quit being a baby. Just take your damn shirt off or get the sleeves wet or whatever. That’s a bullsh*t excuse you got there.”
“Yeah, well, what the hell is your excuse?”
“That it’s gross,” I snapped. “That it’s slave labor. That I refuse to have dishwater hands!”
“Get to the damn sink and wash,” he snarled and pushed me.
I saw red. Nobody had the right to touch me like that, least of all this jackass. I elbowed him off me, then grabbed his arm and propelled him toward the sink instead. “You wash, f*cktard!”
He turned, grabbed my shoulders, and dragged yanked me closer with surprising strength. I threw a wild punch that connected with his jaw, causing him to reel backward, and then he snarled and pushed hard, and I felt something solid in the small of my back, and then the world vanished.
My eyes stung. My ears were packed in cotton. I couldn’t breathe.
Helping hands pulled me up and out of the dishwater. I heard Angie’s voice—“What in the world? What in the world?”—while I coughed and wiped at my face with my still-dry forearms. I tasted soap in my mouth. I saw Cai grinning and launched myself at him. I wanted to kill the motherf*cker.
Several pairs of hands kept us apart. Someone wiped my face with a dishtowel—ew—and then Angie was between me and Cai, fuming.
“That is not acceptable,” she snarled. “That is completely not acceptable. Both of you. Stop it this instant. What’s gotten into you?”
Neither Cai nor I bothered to answer that.
“Go to your rooms,” Angie growled. Damn, the girl could get angry. “You’ll both report to the kitchen after supper today and tomorrow and do whatever extra work is available. Am I clear?”
“Oh, whatever.” Cai looked pissed. “He started it.”
“What are you, in kindergarten?” I bitched at him. “Besides, you f*cking started it.”
He stared. “Do you even listen to yourself?”
“End of discussion,” Angie snapped. “To your rooms. Now.”
At least, I reflected as I stomped up the stairs, my hands were still one hundred percent dishwater free.