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Curtis rakes with a sullen determination, enjoying the way his hands blister on the handle. Stupid orthodontist. Stupid Mom. Stupid no money, stupid retainer, stupid deal, what are they trying to teach him? He can’t help losing things.

Doctor Rubin’s house is really too big, and hollow inside. There’s not enough stuff to go around. Curtis knows stories from other braces-bound kids, about how Mrs. Rubin sat down in the bathtub two years ago and dropped the hair dryer in too. He wonders where that bathroom is. He kind of has to pee, but he decides, on balance, to hold it.