Chapter 11 Summary
On Sunday afternoon, Lucky has to go to work at the museum. Today is the Smokers Anonymous meeting, so she carefully cleans up all the cigarette butts left over from Alcoholics Anonymous. The ex-smokers cannot stand to see or smell a single butt, so she is careful to be thorough. When she is finished, she carefully stashes her broom and rake. Then she hides out by the dumpsters to hear the ex-smokers talk.
As the meeting begins, someone reads from a book called Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Lucky finds this part boring, but she tries to listen carefully in case anyone mentions something about Higher Powers. Then comes the story part, when everyone tells how they hit rock bottom and decided to quit smoking. The Captain talks first, saying he is so badly addicted to cigarettes that he used to smoke while showering and eating. His wife left him when he refused to quit. He thought it was too stressful a time to try quitting, but then he came to a twelve-steps meeting, found his Higher Power, and managed to give up his vice.
Lucky listens carefully to the end of the Captain’s story, hoping to hear clues about how and where she might search for her Higher Power. If she can find her Higher Power, she might know how to deal with a guardian who seems like she might flee home to France every time she hears French music or finds a snake in the dryer.
The next speaker is Mrs. Prender, Miles’s grandmother, who does not normally speak at the meetings. She says that she used to think she could never quit smoking. When she got pneumonia, she went out behind the hospital and smoked anyway. Once she accidentally set her couch on fire and her hair too—but she went on smoking. She knew her daughter started smoking young, but she figured she could not stop her child from smoking when she could not quit herself. Her daughter grew up and moved away, and one day Mrs. Prender received a call from the LA police saying that her daughter was going to jail for doing drugs. They asked Mrs. Prender to take in her grandson.
Lucky does not know what to make of this story. She knows the grandson has to be Miles, but she has been told that Miles’s mother is in Florida taking care of a friend who is sick. Mrs. Prender goes on, saying that when she took Miles in, she decided she could not set a bad example for another child. She quit smoking that very day, and she has never started again. As she takes in the end of the story, Lucky feels a “thump-on-the-heart shock.” Miles’s mother is in jail—and he does not even know it.