Maybe it’s not the best idea, but I get to my feet and follow Ernie across the deck, telling myself I’m doing so to be a good hostess when really I’m curious exactly what’s going to happen—to the extent that I take out my phone (from somewhere) and launch the camera app. Just in case.
“Hey,” Ernie says to Mia. A mini-waterfall gushes loudly from the bottom of his towel.
Mia, who’d been messing idly with her phone, now looks up. “Hey,” she says back.
“You got a bun in that oven?” Ernie points at her belly.
“Were you listening to Mexican banda music recently?”
“I don’t know what that is.” Mia looks at me with question marks in her eyes.
I shrug and keep my phone aimed at her and Ernie.
“Oh, right,” Ernie says. “You’re probably white bread Mexican.” He thinks for a moment; water continues to gush from his towel. “The stuff you hear playing outside Mexican grocery stores or taco trucks in the shady parts of town. Did you listen to anything like that recently?”
“Why would I?”
Ernie gets this constipated look on his face. “Does El Cassetto mean anything to you?”
“How does Lily know you again?” Mia asks.
“We’re besties. What’s your SuperMegaNet username?”
“I need to investigate the scene of the crime!”
“No offense, little boy, but I’m not adding you to my buddy list.”
That look of constipation? It just went flabbergasted. “Why the hell not?”
“Because you’re weird.”
“Oh, I see how it is. You’re fatophobic.”
“You don’t want to talk to me because I’m fat. Hang around with me too long and you’ll catch my fatness like a friggin’ cold, right?” Ernie holds out his arm above Mia’s legs and starts scratching it profusely.
“What are you doing?” Mia snaps.
“Scratching off fat cells so that they’ll nest under your skin and metastasize to your thighs.”
“Ew! Get away from me!”
Ernie scratches harder. “Fat! Fat! You’re getting fat!”
Gripping her chair’s armrests for leverage, Mia lifts one of her legs and kicks Ernie hard in the gut.
“Gaaahh!” he screams, stumbling backward—
—into the pool.
His soft bulk displacing a barrage of water, plastic plates, and junk food debris that rains down on everyone and everything on or near the pool deck.
Summer’s Bluetooth speaker shorts out.
The sky becomes slightly less pink.
And I swear on my mother’s eventual grave that, without missing a beat, she clears her throat and announces, “Okay, everyone! Time for cake!”