I Think I Can…

A snippet of fiction.

“Weddings force singles to think of the future, elders the past, and the intelligent to feel extremely uncomfortable.”
-unknown, 2007

Brian passes through the double doors and onto the back patio. A few lights remain on the fairways, but none on the sand traps or greens. He sets his drink on the cement and reaches for a cigarette. The humidity makes the whiskey and ice sweat, leaving a ring on the gray stone almost instantly. The insects bang into each other, the white lights, and our heads; the air scatters with clicks, whirrs, and buzzes. He tells himself that if one lands in his drink he will eat it. Down it.

In the near darkness the groom stands surrounded by his closest well-wishers. The remember-that-times are over and all that’s left is advice on how to deal with a bride. The advice spills like their staggering drinks and the groom takes it in like a vitamin or mineral. At this point he needs all the reassurance, all the fresh conversation; at this time he knows it will come to an end. It has come to an end. It might be like grandpa said, a beautiful beginning, or like the best man said, the death of everything he knows. Brian merely listens without caring. He smiles a smile that one could only hope would last for a thousand years. It is the smile that says something is figured out: a problem, a question, or just a hurdle gone forever. Whether or not he will remember the answer tomorrow is anyone’s guess, but he relishes in it nonetheless.

Into the air conditioned banquet hall all is white and sparkly. The elders are drinking, dancing, and the children are acting suspiciously sexual. Have they been sneaking champagne? The hour has arrived where random guests are cornering kitchen staff for more food or oral sex. “You Shook Me All Night Long” begins and the dance floor fills up. Heels broken, bowties removed–the second happiest day in their lives. Brian weaves his way to the bar.

“Another Jack on the rocks, please.”

The bartender is portly with a lisp. “Sure.” Brian finds comfort in his presence. If he’s gay than he must hate weddings as much as I. Or is it because I tip him that he is so nice? So much ice and so little booze. Well, when it’s a package deal I guess you gotta save money wherever.

“How’s your night going?” Brian drills the straw as deep as it will go while circling the rim of the plastic cup. His eyes meet the bartender’s.

“Alright. And yours?”

“Yeah, it’s okay. Say, do you work a lot of these?”

“What, weddings?”

“Yeah.”

“Not really. Maybe three a year.”

“Three? Shit. I haven’t been to one since my sister’s, and that was…um, six, maybe seven years ago. I’m hating it.”

“I can tell,” the bartender says as he refills the few sips that were taken.

“Well, see you soon. Thanks.” Brian walks a few steps and sees his table. The same people and conversation. The same goddamn humdrum and in and out piss-mouth explanations on this and that. Words, words, so many said but nothing said. He stops and watches the familiar hand gestures of casual conversation. What are they like alone in their bedrooms?

“Twist and Shout” blares through the hall as the young, old, and handicapped gather on the dance floor to recreate their dance, their secret. Adults crouch down and “twist” with the shorter, younger crowd. Onlookers snap photos and smile and nudge each other with observations. Brian returns outside.

The humidity is stifling. The heat isn’t bad. The grass of the golf course remains—nature shorn and molded to be trampled on by the animal that is killing it. Brian sits down on the same patch of cement as before, returning his legs to an outstretched, crossed, lounging form. I want it to stop. I want to find peace.

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