Big Fat Disaster Excerpt

We arrive home to see three black SUVs and a couple of police cars overflowing from our driveway and lining the street in front of our house. A News Ten van nearly sideswipes us when Mom parallel parks in front of our neighbor’s house.

“Who are those people, Mommy?” Drew asks in a worried voice.

Mom doesn’t answer; she’s already got her iPhone up to her ear. “Hello, Reese? Anyone still there? Pick up! Pick up the phone, Reese!…The—the—I don’t know, maybe it’s the F.B.I.? And—the police are here, too. Honey, pick up the phone if you’re still in the office. Please! We need you here!”

She presses “End” but immediately dials another number. “Pat- rick? It’s Sonya. listen, the police are…What do you mean, your attorney told you not to talk to me? You work for Reese, and you will talk to me, do you underst—Hello? Hello?”

There’s a tap tap tap on the driver’s side window. A lady I recog- nize from the local news is standing on the sidewalk next to our car. She’s holding a microphone, pointed right at Mom.

Mom freaks out, throws the car into Drive, and nearly takes out a passing police car when she pulls away from the curb. We speed back to campaign headquarters.

We find Dad in his office. It looks like a tornado blew through there. Books are knocked off the shelves, boxes are dumped out, there are papers everywhere, and the paper shredder is going full-tilt.

He’s oblivious to us as he pulls handfuls of papers from a file cabinet and feeds them into the shredder.

Mom hisses, “You girls stay out here.” She enters Dad’s office and closes the door.

Their voices can be heard over the roar of the shredder, and Drew and I exchange worried looks. I stride to the water cooler and fill
 a cup, then straighten, keeping my back to Drew. I slip my hand down the front of my dress into my bra. I touch the photo, just to be sure that it’s there, and exhale shakily.

Several minutes later, the shredder stops, and Mom opens the door. She says tersely, “Come in here.”

Dad’s drenched with sweat. He gestures to the two armchairs facing his desk and orders, “Take a seat, girls.” He comes around to the front of his desk and leans against it.

No one makes a sound until my stomach bumps around a dozen Ding Dongs and I stifle a chocolaty burp.

Finally, Dad speaks in a panicked voice. “You know that in our family, honesty is everything. And…I need you to be honest with me, girls. This is very important.” He looks from Drew to me and back again, ending with me. “My desk calendar is missing. I’ve looked everywhere for it.” He gestures shakily to contents of boxes dumped out on the floor. “As you can see.”

I concentrate on keeping my face neutral. I can’t meet his eyes so I focus instead on his hands, which are knotted into fists.

“There was private information about people who have made… donations, on that calendar. Now, if something happened, I need to know about it so that I can”—he seems to lose his train of thought for a second—“protect the confidentiality of my, um, supporters.”

Drew speaks in baby talk: “I didn’t take your calendar, Daddy.” Why does she always use a three-year-old’s voice? I clench my fists and imagine punching her heart-shaped little face.

Dad’s eyes are like lasers on me. “Colby, do you have anything you’d like to tell me? Your mom tells me that you stayed insidetoday instead of coming to the rally.” 
Mom moves to stand beside me. She places her perfectly manicured hand on my shoulder and squeezes it. I feel like I’m the size of Shrek. “You said you weren’t feeling well, Colby. Did you spend any time in here?”

I swallow hard and run my hand over my lips. Finally, I nod.

Dad barks, “Drew, you’re excused! Go to the media center and watch tv.”

“Yes, Daddy!” Drew practically skips from his office.

He springs to his feet and stands over me, puts his face in mine. I can’t tell if he’s angry or frightened, but I’ve never seen him so freaked out, and I freeze. “Where’s my calendar, Colby Diane? What did you do with it? It’s very important that you didn’t look at it! you’re not allowed to see my private information!”

He grips the arms of the chair and jerks back and forth, as if the chair is holding a secret from him. “Where’s my calendar, Colby Diane?”

I open my mouth, but no sound comes out. I’ve never been so scared in my life.