Could Be Paradise


A/n: This is the preface redo, because this definitely needed a make-over. If you're a new reader, welcome to the more furnished edition. Thank you for reading. I really appreciate it and would be ecstatic to hear any constructive criticism.

Justice of the Peace: a very distinguished title for Roy Yelma. Some people sang about love, some acted out being in love, some fell in love, and Roy . . . Roy helped love prosper. At the 'Heartz & Rosez' chapel in Las Vegas, that was where it bloomed and Roy was the gardener.

A sixty-three year old cupid.

His children sometimes said, "Dad, do you really think that all of those couples will last forever?" But they never said it synchronized, or in a chorus; he didn't raise the Partridge Family kids.

Roy would shake off their doubts, not answering their questions. He'd smile good-naturedly when his family would tease him about being delusional. He knew marriage was forever.

Even when he and his wife separated. She just needed a break, she'd said. That was it. They were in love and love was sometimes inconvenient and annoying, but it didn't go away. And Mrs. Yelma would realize she missed him, needed him, loved him. And the move-back-in would commence.

Today, Roy was sitting at his desk, looking over the wedding dates in his agenda. He had the Burnstein appointment in three hours, but for the most part his day was going to be full of love-birds simply 'winging it'.

He heard the smacking of her gum before his assistant, Nelly, even entered his office. "Heyuh, Mr. Y." She jutted out her hip, showing more skin in her jean skirt than dear Roy appreciated. "A lawyer type came by and dropped off some papers. I took a peek. Hope ya don't mind." She set a package of papers on Roy's desk and left, the gum popping as her heels clacked on the floor.

Roy told himself to look at the papers later, that these probably weren't anything important, but he didn't listen to himself. And after he pulled out the sheets, and read the first paragraph, he felt himself grow more wrinkles immediately.

"Nelly!" He jumped from his chair and stalked out into the main ceremony room.

Nelly looked up from the book she was reading. "I'm so sorry, Mr. Y. She was a class 'A' bitch if it makes you feel any better."

He sent her a scowl, for the language of course. "No, no, no. She just . . . I'm just . . . it just . . . a . . . a divorce! My marriage is over. I dedicated my life to her and suddenly we have irreconcilable differences!"

"I know, Mr. Y," Nelly rushed toward Roy, a sincere expression on her face. "What the hell is that anyways, eh? Irreconcilable? Pshaw."

Roy was feeling lightheaded. He needed to calm himself. And suddenly he was scrambling back to his desk and picking up the receiver to his phone. The number was dialed before he took his next breath.

"Yes?" Her voice sounded so composed.


"Oh, Roy. You sound . . . – I assume you got the papers."

Roy had too much pride to beg, but he felt the tears hovering on the edge of his eyes. "It's really come to this?"

"Please, Roy. Don't act so surprised. Half or more of the marriages in America end up in divorce. We're not the only ones. You are taking this out of hand."

"I don't believe that," he said.

"You've always been in denial," Nancy informed her husband. Suddenly she didn't sound like the woman who used to coo 'honey-bear' and 'sugar-poo' at him; she was cold and business-efficient. "You think all of the people you wed stay together? Hah. I can bet that almost all of them don't last a year. You construct spontaneous weddings. Impulsive decisions always end in regret."

". . . But this is us." Roy said. "Marriage is something to be treasured. Whether it's spontaneous or not . . . it means something."

"I loved you, Roy. I really did."

"You're giving up," he told her miserably.

"We'll talk about this later, okay? Please."

He said nothing and waited for her to hang-up. Slowly he let the phone slip from his hand. Then he returned to Nelly briskly.

"I need a pen and paper."

"Here." Without question Nelly handed him the objects.

"I'm not going to let this carry on." Roy flattened down the paper and his tongue stuck out in concentration. "When you get married, you make a commitment to another person. You can't just cut them off any damn time you feel like it."

"You're scarin' me, Mr. Y.," Nelly said slowly.

"A contract," he murmured. "It's the only way. It's . . . the last resort." His thin wrist bounced madly to the sound of pen scratching paper.

"A contract?"

"The couple . . . they will sign this, saying they must stay together for a-a year, at least. Yeah . . . yes, a year. A year's good." His tongue protruded further. "If they do this, without committing adultery, and remain a blissfully married couple for a year. Then . . . then I wrote that I will give them the savings in my account. I'm not sure how much, but I'll give it all to them. All of it." He glanced up, feeling triumphant, proactive even. Like an inventor, maybe.

Nelly scoffed. "Give yer money to a couple that gets married, signs yer contracty thing, and acts all happily ever after? That's insane!"

"Why is it insane, Nelly? Hmm? I want people to love each other. If they need a contract to bind them together, then so be it! I will not stand by while love is destroyed because a couple hits a bump in the road, and backs out of the relationship!" Roy felt so justified and it exhilarated him.

"Seriously?" Nelly sucked in a breath, cocking her head.

Roy nodded. "The next pair to step through these doors, wanting to get married, will be the lucky customers."

Nelly said, "I think you need yerself some booty, Mr. Y."

"I don't know exactly what that means, dear, but maybe I'll pick it up later from the 7eleven."