The karma club, p.1
The Karma Club, p.1Jessica Brody
The Karma Club
Farrar Straus Giroux • New York
Copyright © 2010 by Jessica Brody
All rights reserved
Distributed in Canada by D&M Publishers, Inc.
Printed in March 2010 in the United States of America
by RR Donnelley & Sons Company, Harrisonburg, Virginia
Designed by Natalie Zanecchia
First edition, 2010
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The Karma Club / Jessica Brody.—1st ed.
Summary: When high school senior Maddy catches her boyfriend cheating on her, she devises a complicated plan to get revenge.
[1. Revenge—Fiction. 2. Interpersonal relations—Fiction. 3. Conduct of life—Fiction. 4. High schools—Fiction. 5. Schools—Fiction.] 1. Title.
To Elizabeth Fisher,
The Hunky Dough Boy
The Heather Campbell of Colonial High
Behind Door Number Three
The Great Escape
The Dalai Who?
Waiting on the World to Change
Operation Butter Face
Charmed, I’m Sure
The Legend of the Great Granny Panty Bandit
An Unexpected Apology
Operation Mrs. Robinson
The Proof Is in the Facebook Profile
Good News Travels Fast
Bathroom Stall Confessions
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Cooper
Secret Love Affair
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Truth Be Told
Beware of the Turkey Chili
My Own TV Crime Drama
The Butterfly Effect
Spen, the Swedish Intern
The Ultimate Ultimatum
Returning to Ground Zero
The Space-Time Continuum
The New Godfather
Kisses for Karma?
A Test of Faith
Operation Pay Forward
The Karma Club
I can tell you right now, it’s all Karma’s fault.
Yes, Karma. You know, that unmistakable force in the universe that makes sure good deeds are rewarded and bad deeds are punished.
Like when I stole my little sister’s lunch in the seventh grade because I woke up too late to make my own. When I got to school, I found that the meat in the sandwich was actually moldy and I had to spend the very last of my allowance money on the disgusting, unrecognizable cafeteria food.
Or the summer between junior and senior year, when my best friend, Angie, and I decided that our time would be better spent hanging out at the mall rather than keeping our promise to her mom to help clean out the garage. Well, Angie’s car ran out of gas halfway there and instead we spent our morning trudging through the ninety-degree heat toward the nearest gas station, which was, not surprisingly, four miles away, and then back to the abandoned car with a gas can that weighed nothing short of twenty pounds. Needless to say, the total amount of energy exerted during this brilliant little escapade of ours was about ten times the amount it would have taken to help Mrs. Harper sort through a few dusty boxes.
Yep, Karma again.
And when I was nine, I obsessively begged my parents to let me get a dog and they refused. So I decided to volunteer at the local animal shelter walking dogs that didn’t have homes because it was clearly the closest thing to a dog I was going to get. Well, my parents were so impressed with my “unrewarded dedication,” as they called it, that they ended up letting me pick out a dog from the shelter to keep.
So, you see, it works both ways.
Good deeds are rewarded while bad deeds are punished. Good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. That’s just how Karma works.
Well, at least that’s how I thought it worked.
But that was before I entered the second half of my senior year. When everything changed. Everything I thought I knew and everything I thought I could count on suddenly went right out the window.
I think I can trace it back to one day.
That fateful day when Angie called me up with the news.
Yes, that was definitely the day it all began. Before my simple, little world—where up was up and down was down, and right and wrong were as different as night and day—was flipped upside down. And from that point on, there was absolutely nothing in my life that could be described as “simple.”
THE HUNKY DOUGH BOY
My phone seems to be ringing louder than usual today. And there’s a certain urgency in its tone that makes this incoming call somehow sound more important than most.
I stare at it for a moment and then quickly decide to ignore the call. I’m in the middle of studying for a very important European history test and I really don’t want to be bothered.
The phone rings again.
I don’t need to look at the caller ID to know that it’s Angie who’s being so freaking persistent. My friends all have their own ring tones. Angie’s happens to be a very popular hip-hop song that she insists she started liking way before everyone else did. Personally, I think she just doesn’t want to admit that she’s in any way “mainstream.” It would damage that subtle counterculture reputation she’s spent so long perfecting.
Either way, I think this particular song lost its appeal after about twelve rings. And given the fact that Angie calls me at least sixteen times a day, I am now officially sick of it.
I ignore Angie’s call again and continue reading about the storming of the Bastille. Whatever is so important can at least wait until King Louis XVI gets his head chopped off.
The phone rings a third time.
Finally, I groan and pick it up. “What?”
Normally, Angie would berate me for my unfriendly greeting, but this afternoon, apparently, she has bigger things to worry about than my tone. “Maddy, get down to Miller’s now.”
“I can’t. I’m studying for my history test,” I say, slightly annoyed.
“Drop everything and get your butt down here,” she practically growls into the phone. “I promise, it’s more exciting than the French Revolution.”
“Yeah, like that’s hard,” I reply sarcastically.
“Just come.” And with that she hangs up the phone.
Angie has been my best friend since the sixth grade. She probably knows me better than anyone else in my life. For instance, she knows that, right now, I’ll sulk around my room for the next few minutes debating about whether or not I really want to give in to her demands. Then I’ll eventually close my textbook with a scowl, slip on my shoes, and drive the twelve blocks to Miller’s Drug Store, where she works quarter-time as a cashier. I say quarter-time instead of part-time, because although it is a part-time job, she spends only half of the time working and the other half reading magazines from the rack next to the register.
I pull into the store parking lot exactly nine minutes later, and I know she’ll be patting herself on the back when I walk through the door, incredibly proud of her ability to clock my decision-making process down to the minute.
I trudge into the empty store and approach the register, where she’s flipping through the new February issue of Contempo Girl, our mutually favorite magazine. Although we have completely different reasons for lik
“What’s so important you couldn’t just tell me on the phone?”
Angie looks up and, without even so much as a hello, shoves the magazine into my hands. I manage to catch it just before it falls to the floor.
“Turn to page thirty-five.”
I shift my weight onto one foot and, with a frustrated sigh, open the now crumpled magazine. As I flick brusquely through the pages, I say, “You know, this history test tomorrow is my only chance to bring my B up to an A and I don’t really appreciate the fact that you dragged me down here just to gripe about whatever—” I stop suddenly with a gasp when I see the page in front of me.
Angie watches me with a satisfied I-told-you-so grin on her face.
“Oh my God!” I exclaim as I stare down at the page in disbelief. “They published it?”
She nods excitedly. “Yes!”
“They actually published it?” I still can’t seem to wrap my head around what I’m seeing in front of me.
“I told you it was more exciting than the French Revolution.”
I fold over the front half of the magazine and bring it closer to my face so I can study the paragraph-long block of text that takes up approximately one fifth of the page. Above it is the name MASON BROOKS printed in large, bold letters, and right next to that is a picture of my boyfriend. Yes, my boyfriend, in Contempo Girl magazine for all to see!
I submitted his picture to the magazine’s monthly “Meet My Boyfriend” competition. But that was like six months ago. And after three months of running to the store the minute the latest issue was released to see if they had chosen my submission, I pretty much gave up on the whole thing.
You see, each month they pick only five guys to feature. Mason is our senior class president, just recently scored a 2350 on his SATs, is one of the best players on our varsity soccer team, and he already has an early acceptance letter to Amherst College for next year. Plus, I think he’s hot. Like really hot. I know I’m biased and everything, but he’s got these incredible green eyes and long dark lashes. His skin is olive colored, and the hair on his head is dark and thick, really good for running your fingers through.
Anyway, I know the fact that he’s hot and an amazing soccer player and manages to juggle being class president is really impressive. I mean, personally I’m impressed by him every day. But I never thought in a million years that Contempo Girl would actually pick him. Well, maybe I’ve had a few fleeting fantasies about it. Something along the lines of Mason’s picture gets selected, everyone at the school sees it, I experience one of those insta-popularities that only happens in cheesy teen movies and maybe even score a nomination for prom queen. My clothes magically become more trendy (either because I suddenly know how to pick out trendy clothes or because everyone simply idolizes anything I wear and so it doesn’t even matter), and just like that, Mason and I become the most popular couple at Colonial High.
However, this is far more exciting than anything I ever imagined. Not to mention totally surreal.
“Read it aloud,” Angie insists. “It’s a really good article.”
I grasp the magazine tightly and begin reading from the page. “Mason Brooks, senior at Colonial High School in Pine Valley, CA, has been hopelessly devoted to his girlfriend, Madison Kasparkova, since sophomore year.” I stop reading and look up at Angie with a dopey smile on my face. “That’s me!”
“I know.” She rolls her eyes. “Keep reading.”
I drop my head back down and pick up where I left off. “In a graduating class of just over four hundred students, they didn’t meet until both of them decided to take jobs working as counselors at a local summer camp. They have been together ever since. ‘He’s so sweet to me,’ says Madison, age seventeen. ‘He always knows when I’m in a bad mood or not having a good day and shows up at my door with my favorite candy: Chewy Runts. They’re really hard to find sometimes. They don’t sell them everywhere. But somehow he always manages to find them. Like he has a Chewy Runts Locating Device hidden in his closet or something.’ ”
I look up again. “Yeah, I wrote that! I really did!” I beam.
“I know,” Angie replies again. “You only made me read the letter like fifty times before you sent it.”
“It’s funny, right? Do you think it’s funny?” I ask, suddenly paranoid about everyone in the world reading these lines and thinking I’m totally lame for saying “Chewy Runts Locating Device.”
“Yes,” Angie grudgingly reassures me. “It’s funny. It was funny when you wrote it. It’s still funny now.”
Somewhat satisfied, I turn back to the magazine. “When Mason Brooks isn’t spending time with his smitten, sweet-toothed girlfriend, he fulfills his duties as senior class president and a part-time chef at a local pizzeria. But don’t get too floured by this hunky dough boy, ladies. Mason and Madison have already made plans to attend the same college after graduation. It sounds like this perfect pairing was made to last.”
I stand in complete astonishment as I try to grasp everything that has happened in the last five minutes. My boyfriend, Mason Brooks, featured in Contempo Girl magazine! They even called him a “hunky dough boy.” Well, yeah, it’s a bit cheesy, but so what? This is huge! Every girl in the country is going to see this. Every girl in the country is going to be pining after my boyfriend.
Suddenly, I hear a high-pitched, overly excited shriek coming from the direction of the drugstore’s front entrance and I realize that I wasn’t the only person Angie called with the news.
“Where is it? Let me see it. How does he look? Oh my God, this is so exciting!”
Angie and I turn to see our other best friend, Jade, running into the store, completely red faced, her shoulder-length, sandy blond hair flipping wildly behind her. She scurries over to the register and tries to grab the magazine from my tightly grasping fingers. “Lemme see!” she squeals.
I pass the magazine to Jade and watch intently as her face lights up like a Christmas tree and her eyes skim the article.
Her head pops up. “They quoted you!”
My beaming grin never falters. “I know.”
“That’s so cool,” she muses as she continues reading. I watch her face for further reaction, and then finally she cracks up laughing. “ ‘Chewy Runts Locating Device.’ That’s hilarious.”
“You think?” I ask again.
Jade nods with decisiveness. “Definitely funny.”
Angie shakes her head at us and turns to help a customer who has just appeared at the register. Jade and I instinctively step a few feet away to spare the stranger the agony of listening to our intrusively loud, girlie shrieks.
“But Mason doesn’t work at the pizza place anymore,” Jade points out.
I simply shrug. “He did when I sent in his picture. But I doubt it matters.”
In fact, Mason quit his job at Brooklyn Pizza after only six months of working there. And honestly, I’m not really sure why he needed the extra money to begin with—his parents basically pay for everything he wants anyway.
Jade finishes the article, then looks at me in amazement. “Wow.”
I take the magazine back from her and hold it tightly in my grasp, as if dropping it would cause the whole thing to shatter into a million pieces and I might actually wake up from this crazy dream.
Angie finishes helping the older lady with her purchase of two-in-one shampoo and conditioner and a bag of cotton balls and steps out from behind the counter to join us.
Jade affectionately puts an arm around my shoulder. “This is big.” She sums up my feelings in three little words.
I gaze absently straight ahead. “I don’t even know what to do with myself.”
Angie laughs and shakes her head. “Well, Maddy,” she says in a serious tone. “The first thing you’
“Sixteenth,” I correct her.
“Whatever. They’re all ugly with big noses. Louis le Grande Schnoz is more like it.”
I giggle. Angie’s one of those people that can always be counted on to stay calm and rational during any time of crisis or extreme excitement. If she had been on the Titanic when it started to sink, she definitely would not have been one of those women screaming and running around like headless chickens. She would have been one of the people organizing everyone else and telling them to shut up and get on the flipping lifeboat because screaming is clearly not going to get you anywhere . . . except the bottom of the ocean.
I reach into the pocket of my jeans and produce a few dollar bills, which I hand over to Angie. She walks back to the register, rings up the slightly mangled magazine, and holds out my change. “Thanks for shopping at Miller’s,” she says brightly and with only a hint of sarcasm.
I say goodbye to both my friends, mumbling something about my test, and then drive back to my house in somewhat of a daze. I immediately make a plan to go back to the drugstore tomorrow to buy at least twenty copies of the magazine. Or however many my diminished bank account will allow. Because this is definitely the kind of thing you’d want to be able to show your grandchildren when you—Crap! I have to call Mason. He doesn’t even know that his face is plastered in magazines across the country, dressed in his sauce-stained Brooklyn Pizza apron with a smudge of flour on his left cheek. I chose that specific picture, as opposed to the generic shirtless picture that I’m sure every girl chooses, because I thought it made him look humble and down-to-earth and really captured his whole Mason essence.
The Karma Club by Jessica Brody / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes