Boss Man's voice creeps up behind me. "What happened?"
I turn and stare at him. His bald head is bright pink, and he's wearing these big, ridiculous orange glasses. I try to think of a good story, but in the end I come up with nothing.
"He was drunk," I say feebly. Drunk. That don't mean shit. Everyone's drunk around here. On vacation and drunk, because somehow "vacation" means getting up and drinking mimosas until it's time to switch to something harder.
"So?" he asks. "You must have done something to make him angry." He removes his glasses and polishes them on the hem of his Hawaiian shirt. Someone oughtta tell him we're in Iowa, not friggin' O'ahu.
"Honest, sir, I don't know." Sir makes everything better. Show him what a Big Man he is, how I'm scum at his feet. Bow down and worship.
"Fine. See if Simon will cover for you. Go home and clean yourself up." Boss Man puts his glasses back on and rubs his temples. For the first time ever, I wonder if he gets tired of kissing rich ass all day long.
"Yes, sir." I turn to make my way up the stairs, toward the restaurant.
Simon is in the back room of Spirit Lake Grill, scrubbing and shaking his head along with a Bob Marley tune. I watch him scrape the remnants of an order of Italian nachos, sprinkled with cigar ash, into the wastebasket.
"Fucking animals," he blurts.
A tiny smile stretches my lips. That's the thing about best friends--they're not joined by common interests; in my experience, they're usually drawn together by common enemies.
"Tell me about it," I say.
Simon jumps. He turns and takes me in, from the seaweed in my hair to my soggy All Stars.
"What happened to you?"
"Eh, a drunk threw me in the lake." I don't really need to say more. Simon's worked here for three summers, and he knows how it goes. Rich effers plus alcohol equals a lot of dumb shit. "Can you cover the booth for me?"
His eyes light up. "Hell, yes," he says, pulling his hairnet away from his scraggly black hair. He shrugss off his apron and hangs it on a nail next to the sink.
I scratch the back of my neck. There's one more thing I need to ask Simon, who knows the dirt on everyone in Spirit Lake, townie or tourist.
"Hey, do you know a girl named Natalie?"
Simon rinses his hands and takes too long to answer. The way his shoulders stiffen makes me uneasy.
"Tiny? Black hair? Birthmark on her cheek?"
"Yeah," I say, catching the excitement in my tone and turning it down a notch. "Yeah, her. Do you know anything about her?"
He turns around to face me, his thick, black eyebrows drawn together in concern. "Stay away from that girl," he says, his voice low.
His warning catches me off guard. "Why?" I ask, trying to sound casual.
Simon's eyes hold mine. "He'll kill you. You think getting thrown in the lake is bad? You mess with that girl, he will fuck you up. I'm not kidding." His voice is serious as razors. I think of the rage in that preppy asshole's eyes before he punched me.
I know I should listen to Simon.