The kids started the night at Singing Beach. Gerritt andSpencer and the boys found a bunch of seaweed-stringy lobster traps washed up on shore, and Maddie and the girls watched them stomp on the weathered wood so it splintered with pops and cracks that echoed off the pink clay cliffs. The boys' faces grew sweat-slick from the effort and Maddie saw how the destruction made them buzz like it was a drug. Boys always got to do the fun stuff, it seemed, while the girls watched. Or, she thought, cheered the boys on, which is exactly what Bitsy and Vanessa and Gabrielle were doing. Hooting and applauding while lit Parliament Lights dangled from lips glossed with Kissing Potion roll-on in Orange Squeeze.
The boys stacked the wood in a towering pyramid and soon a bonfire blazed so tall and hot Maddie was sure it would keep the caterpillars away.
John Anderson drove his Bronco into the dunes and blasted Beastie Boys. "Brass Monkey" came on and everyone sang along, Rolo the loudest (and, Maddie saw, the drunkest), dancing like a spastic robot when the honking horn bleated between refrains so the rolls of fat under his snug tie-dyed Grateful Dead tee jiggled.
B r ass Mon k e y , that fun k y mon k ey / B r ass Mon k ey junkie / T hat fun k y mon k ey .
Penny joined in, playing the goofball, bumping hips with Rolo until the whole crew of kids were laughing—bitchy Vanessa the hardest, clutching her belly and yelling, "Stop! I'm gonna pee!"
Maddie had avoided Penny since the fair and was still pissed at her for taking some random pills when she knew she shouldn't, especially not with the chemo. Maddie had held back from shout- ing W hat the hell w e r e y ou thinking? on the long ride from the
fair to the ER in the back of the ambulance that had rolled onto the fairway—its flashing red-and-blue strobe and the carnival lights all mixed up so Penny's pale face seemed painted. At the ER, once the blood had returned to Penny's acne-rough cheeks, a tube pushing saline into her already bruised veins, the doctor had taken Maddie aside and asked if she'd seen Penny take anything. She had lied, knowing that was what Penny wanted. While they'd waited for Penny's more-than-tipsy parents to show up, Penny was already cracking jokes. Goo d thin g thos e b la c k people sho w e d u p w he n the y did—that'l l g i v e e v e r y on e somethin g to tal k a bout , othe r tha n m e lookin g li k e a dumbass .