I'm pretty sure I saw this in a song once. In fact, I remember this being in quite a few movies... and that one ad for credit cards. Strange. You never think this shit is going to happen on your side of a TV screen, and especially not to you. It just doesn't. Real life isn't like one of those magical moments at the end of romance films where the best friend who's been there all along gets the girl and runs off with her leaving the jerk boyfriend at the altar. Yet here we are. Running down the high street in a tuxedo to win the woman of my dreams... again. Maybe I should explain?
I'm the jerk. And the love of my life just turned and ran from my side at the altar to the arms of her best friend, and onto the back of a waiting motorcycle. Kudos for him on how he played it; it really was just like a movie. It was perfect for her, and the speech he made when he kicked open the church doors at "speak now or forever hold your peace" was beautifully said and clearly rehearsed. Oh yeah. He was that good.
I almost didn't chase her. Almost. I wouldn't have were it not for the final glimpse I got of her face before the bike sped off leaving me at the bottom of the chapel stairs all alone. She'd been smiling all the way down the aisle to me, and then all the way back down it into his arms. She smiled down the steps and onto the bike, smiled as he shoved the helmet on her veiled head and buttoned it, smiled as she grasped tight around his waist, but then she turned to see me one last time as the bike was kicked into gear. The smile was gone. I saw the look on her face and recognised it instantly, and that's when I knew I'd end up chasing this floppy haired prick and his motorcycle as he tried to steal my woman. The look said it all: "is that it?"
I'd like to say it was a look I wasn't familiar with, but I lost my virginity to this woman. That look was burned forever into the back of my mind, and I could spot it anywhere. It was the same disappointment, the same feeling of being let down. Unlike the last time I saw it though, during my... brief... period of sexual novitiate, this time there was nothing behind it. When I had failed to impress her with my lovemaking there had been a fire in her eyes still, a passion, a desire to try again; this time there was nothing. She had been rescued at the altar, run from a church and leaped onto a waiting Harley, a modern day stallion, and found... nothing. There was nothing waiting for her there. The moment had passed, and I knew that now she had checked it off her list, she'd wished she'd never done it. Like our first time, it hadn't lived up to the hype. But unlike giving herself to me, I could see she regretted it. So the bike sped off, and I followed.
He'd clearly planned this, and planned this well. He knew all her wishes and dreams, knew what she'd fall for and what she always wanted. He knew this because he was her best friend, and she told him. As the jerk, I had to work it all out for myself. The jerk at the altar never gets it easy. He's the one who has to just know by looking what his woman wants, what she needs, and how she wants him to give her it; a best friend is told all this, and that's the main difference between the jerk and the best friend. The jerk never has a chance.
His bike pulled an easy left off of the high street, and reaching the corner 10 seconds later, I knew I'd never catch him. It was the busy hour in central, and all the pavements were crammed with people, all walking slowly to gaze into the windows of various stores to buy things they couldn't afford and didn't need. I'd never manage to jostle through such a crowd and keep up with the ever fainter roar of the Harley as it weaved in and out of the traffic which would flatten me given half the chance. I'd have to be smart. And thank God for this woman, because if I had to be anything to survive her love, it was smart. I felt trained. I felt ready. I felt the moment was another test, and another test I was going to pass...
"I knew you would! I fucking knew it! Way to go!"
She leaped into the car, shoved her lips into my face, shortly followed by the test scores she'd just picked up.
"6 fucking A's! Way to go baby, I'm so proud of you!"
I actually was, too. Schooling had never been my thing; I wasn't the intellectual type. But it was hers, and if she had been smart as she was beautiful, the A's were always a given, and we sat just staring at the papers in the front seats of my car for a little while, basking in what this meant for her.
"College!" she cried, "Careers! Think of it, Harv, we're going to be rich! You can sit at home and be the perfect house-husband, while I'm out ruling the world!"
We laughed at this, and I pulled her close and kissed her again. My grades were forgotten in the moment, the paper folded in the drivers foot-well.. She didn't ask, and I didn't want her too. A single B and straight Cs were passable, and many would be thrilled with such a result, but I could see those big green eyes in my mind, suddenly going to the worst emotion she ever showed in my presence: pity. It was very rare that she did it, and if I could see it she'd hide it instantly, but the looks haunted me. She knew it. And we both knew that neither of us should be pitying the other. Not that there was anything about her I could pity. Beautiful, talented, great home life, fantastic friends... that said, Harvey Morris, yours truly, is no pity case either. Unless you pitied the average of society. Average anonymity is not a crime, nor is it a curse, so if you DO pity the average, go fuck yourself.
"Where we headed?" I asked when the laughter subsided, knowing this was a good an excuse as any to go to a fancy restaurant and eat good food and enjoy each others good humour and wit, until I drove her home and we'd enjoy each other physically. See? I told you not to pity me. I'm tapping Eleanor French, the hottest girl in school. What have YOU done today?
"Wait! You didn't ask how Derek did... don't you care?" she mocked me, knowing I couldn't give a damn about Derek Fisher. Her best friend since they could walk, she and him were as close as two friends could be, and in some regards closer than myself and her. He was where she went on the occasions when I fucked up, anyway, and there were plenty of those. I already knew he'd done better than me in the tests, and so did she, even though she hadn't asked, but hey, I couldn't go ahead and tell her I didn't give a fuck. That'd be a jerk move. And the best friend LOVES it when the jerk does a jerk move. So I grinned, flashed her my sincerest smile, and asked how Derek did.
"You can ask him yourself, he's coming to The Snail tonight with us! We get to meet Michelle!"
What an honour. Derek Fisher tagging along on my night out with my girl, and bringing his elusive girlfriend who always seemed to not be around when Eleanor went over. In fact, Eleanor had never seen her, and I had only once, leaning with Derek on the lockers outside chemistry wrapped in what looked like a wrestling match. Only with tongue. She didn't join us in chemistry though, a subject myself, Eleanor and Derek shared. I think she was into the arts, a series of subjects I'd never had time, patience nor skills for. Except for writing. I loved that.
But that was that. Derek and Michelle would be coming to The Snail with us, the swanky bar restaurant that I had tried to impress Eleanor with on our first date all those years ago. She'd laughed then, and it had become a running joke that I'd take her there when I expected special sex. Birthday, make up, comfort, angry or any other form of special sex, of which there are many and I've been privy to most. She was a cool girl, Eleanor. She'd love to sit across from me, both of us knowing how the night was going to end, and both of us laughing inwardly as we looked at the fake romance all around us, and the people who, like me, had bought into it first time round. But there would be no in-jokes and social mockery tonight, no way. Because Derek Fisher and Michelle were tagging along. The rolling down of the window and Eleanor's excited scream announced they'd reached the parking lot, and I have to admit my foot twitched on the accelerator. If only I'd started the car. Moments later we were joined by the man himself and his girlfriend. They piled into the back, only to have Eleanor loudly announce she'd like to swap seats with Derek so she could grill his girlfriend. And that's how Derek Fisher ended up next to me as we pulled out onto the high street, leaving High School behind, none of us ever to return.
Eleanor and Michelle gibbered in the back, giggling and squealing occasionally, talking in girl speak; that inane, senseless, high pitched banter that only makes sense if you play it backwards through a cassette. This left Derek and I to make the male equivalent of such chatter in the front, a slow broken drawl with too many questions and too short answers. It was the awkward conversation of two men who disliked each other drawn together for the love of one woman. We both knew it.
"Yeah, that was never a penalty. Hey, Harvey, how were your grades?"
The car instantly went silent. The two girls who had been getting so well acquainted in the back suddenly stopped talking, and looked toward me. Eleanor looked stunned for a moment, I could see in the mirror she was mortified she'd forgotten to ask me. Derek gave me the ghost of a smirk, but it was gone before I could justify punching him in the face. I looked coolly in the mirror as I changed lanes before casually announcing my B's and C's. Derek smiled, a genuinely friendly smile, for Eleanor's benefit of course, and opened his mouth to speak, but was drowned out by the excited scream from Eleanor in the back.
"Oh, Harvey, that's WONDERFUL," she threw her arms around the seat, pulling me into a tight, and rather dangerous considering I was the driver, hug. Her head popped over the shoulder of my seat so she could shove her cheek against mine, and I felt the warmth of her tears on my face. She was genuinely happy for me. I nearly teared up myself. "I'm so proud of you! Oh, wait till your parents find out! You're all set, Harvey! Way to go!" She planted a long wet kiss on my cheek before falling back into her seat and sighing happily. Michelle, who I hadn't really looked at properly before I glanced at her in the mirror was smiling too. Derek had the same genuine smile on his face, but I could see by now that it was hurting him to keep it up.
"Yeah man, way to go Harv," when he calls me that I want to punch him. But that'd be the jerk move he's digging for. "I knew you'd do it. The B was in chemistry, right?"
"Yeah," I said, forcing the same smile back at him, "I have Elle and you to thank for it." There was a pause. "How'd you do?"
He shrugged as if he was unimpressed by his results. "6 A's..."
Eleanor reached forward wordlessly, and high-fived him. Suddenly, I wished I'd gotten a high five. I had to slap myself for being a jealous moron. I got a French Kiss. Yeah, that's what we named it when Eleanor French kissed somebody. Nobody in chemistry expected the French Kiss to ever come my way. So fuck you, world. Derek looked slightly disgruntled, as if he'd expected more of a hpye from somebody. Michelle hadn't even moved. Glancing at her in the mirror again, she was actually looking out the window. The rest of the ride passed uneventfully, the 30 minutes being absorbed with Derek and Eleanor telling in-jokes while I hummed and drummed my fingers on the wheel.
We arrived to the usual valet parking bay. The guy was well dressed and snappily polite, the worst kind of polite, the polite that makes you sound like an inconsiderate intruder. It doesn't change even when you leave the dollars on the dash as his tip, you just feel like an obstacle to his smooth running of a clear bay. Maybe they just hate high schoolers. I suppose we did turn up in an old mustang in our casual clothes. But that too was a tradition always kept by me and Elle. Or Elle and I. We were seated at a small round table for 4, a table just big enough to allow my long legs their own quadrant, and Derek was quick to sit on my right,leaving him across the table from Eleanor, and me staring into the face of a girl I didn't know who looked perpetually bored. The in-jokes rolled on. They rolled on through starters and half way through main, until Michelle leaned forward after her second glass of wine and asked me pointedly what I wanted to do with my life. I floundered.
"I don't know. I guess the plan's always been to be Eleanor's house-wife," I smiled. Eleanor laughed, and punched me on the arm, and Michelle gave a simpering laugh and carried on her questioning. I was a soccer player, I told her, and not good enough to make it big. I said I didn't like the idea of going into an office job, and no, I wasn't planning on going into civil service. Yes, I agreed I was an okay driver, but I never considered it a career.
"So you do have an idea for a career? Well, what is it?"
"A writer, I suppose..."
I glanced to my left, and there it was. Pity. She hadn't expect me to look at her, but I knew she'd do it. Her big green eyes under her dark hair, holding that little morsel of pity they always did when I told people I'd like to be a writer. She'd read my work, and it was the same look she had in her eyes when she gave it back to me and told me it was good. I loathed it, and for a moment, I thought I loathed her too. The pity was gone as soon as it had appeared, but I'd seen enough. Derek had seen it. His eyes held an amused contempt, and that didn't vanish when I looked.
"Yeah," Eleanor said turning to Michelle, "He's an excellent writer, too. He's written a few short stories and they're fantastic. I read them to my little sister to put her to sleep."
"That's awesome," Michelle grinned. There was a hint of something in her eyes, but it wasn't pity or contempt. I couldn't place what it was. Then Eleanor's foot touched my inner thigh. She always was flexible, and I considered this to be the start of her apology for the pity. Her foot worked it's way up throughout the rest of dinner, and though the talk was more subdued,there was plenty of wine, although not for the designated driver yours truly, and that drove the foot higher and higher up my leg. Dessert came, and her toes were out of their sneakers and circling inches below my crotch. I was a little turned on, and it obviously showed, because her foot soon found my growing excitement.
Eleanor giggled as she drained another glass of wine and Derek somehow managed to knock her fork off of the table. It hit the ground and bounced twice across the carpeted floor, away from her seat. She smiled sweetly and followed it, dropping to all fours to retrieve it. The foot stayed where it was. Eleanor had her sneakers on, and her eyes followed the long leg under the table from it's position on my groin to it's origin at Michelle's hip. I realised at the same moment what was happening and leaped up from the table, my excitement obvious by the bulge in my jeans.
"Elle, no, I..."
Michelle giggled loudly and drunkenly, and looked towards Derek, who leaped to his feet, grabbed Eleanor by the hand and steered her towards the door. Derek wasn't drunk either. His lone glass of wine lay half full on the table, and it sat there mocking me. Michelle leaned across the table, her shirt baggy and unbuttoned at the top. I could see down it, but I couldn't bring myself to look away from the retreating form of my girlfriend and her best friend, the love of my life and her most loyal companion marching away to the door.
"You know," the drunken voice opposite me drawled close by my ear, "He only asked me to do a little, and told me we didn't have to do much... but if you want too..." her breath was warm on my ear, but all forms of sexual desire had left me.
I had been played. In the place where Eleanor and I sat mocking the falseness of the social scene, the scene had turned around to have the last laugh. It was like another moment out of a movie. I pushed Michelle lightly back into her seat and weaved among the tables to the door, just in time to see Derek load the very drunk Michelle into a taxi and climb in beside her. I knew what'd happen. He'd take her home, then leave her sobbing in the arms of her parents. He'd go home of course, so as to stop her "doing something she'd regret."
I'd been well and truly done by Derek Fisher. Again.
I was a jerk. She'd never believe the true story. To even try and tell it would make me MORE of a jerk.
I made my way to the valet bay the taxi had just pulled out of, and the same valet who had taken my car arrived with it moments later. It seemed they also ran a cleaning service in the parking lot, because all the loose candy wrappers and cigarette butts had been taken out. But there, on the passenger seat, unfolded and left neatly on display were my exam grades.
A reminder of the test I passed. Sitting in the empty seat all the way home, as a reminder of the test I failed.
I had ran past The Snail at a brisk jog. Catching myself in the reflective glass, I admired the irony of seeing myself outside it properly attired for once. Bow-tie and all. I stopped to catch my breath and think. I'd given up on simply catching them on foot; there was no way I'd keep up with the Harley. I'd just have to outsmart the bastard. He knew Eleanor, and he knew her perfectly. But so did I. She's told him, and I'd worked her out. It was like taking the same math paper, but where he had a calculator and I did not. We got the same answers, but I'd worked harder and learned more along the way. So he got her faster? Big whoop. He wasn't going to get away from this jerk. I racked my brain, thinking hard for where his cheesy-minded idea for the perfect moment to tell her his feelings would take him. If he knew Eleanor, and truly truly knew her, there's only one place that would happen, and I set off on what I knew would be a long run. But if he was trying to paint her perfect evening, I had a while. He'd go slow, he'd talk to her, he'd say everything he knew she wanted to hear. He'd parrot back all those wonderful things she'd told him she'd loved to have said to her one day, so long ago that she'd forgotten telling him, and she'd think he was perfect. I meanwhile, had worked out all those things, and won her heart more times than I could count, and I'd done it all myself. I was her perfect man. I'd proven it so many times, and now I was going to go and prove it again. With the imaginary climax music of a thousand romantic comedies crashing through my head, I ran to the high school to steal from a thief.
"Aren't you the romantic?" she mocked me gently, "my one month away from school, and you bring me back to school?"
It was perfectly dark. That weird darkness that let's you see a few inches perfectly, and then nothing more. I'm sure she could explain it, she was in her third year of physics as her college major, but for me it was magical, and I was glad it was there. We lay in the gardens in the centre of our old high school, the buildings around us oddly comforting like dark sentinels, witnesses of our awesomeness circa 10 years now. We'd met here, become lab partners here, fallen in love here (although she claimed I had her at "What the jesus is an electron?" on our first day), and now, here in the wild flowers and bushes of the centre gardens, we lay naked and stupefied by our antics.
"You're a huge nerd," I whispered from where my mouth had found the nape of her neck. It was sweaty; she tasted divine. "I knew you'd get your kicks from seeing your old lab while you rode me."
She hit me lightly on my bare chest and snuggled tighter under the blankets we had brought.
"Could you imagine doing this when we were still students? Oooooh, the thrill... Looking out of the lab window every day and knowing we fucked right there, by the rhododendrons. It has a kind of poetry. Well, it has YOUR kind of poetry, and that shit is awful."
She squealed as I bit her, and laughed until it ended in a sigh.
"You're a beautiful poet, Harvey."
"I know..." I grinned against her flesh.
"Oh you do?"
"Mhmmm... it must have taken a damn good poem to get you lying naked in the garden of an under-funded publi school with a college drop-out. A damn fine poet too. You hussy."
She giggled again and pulled me closer with her bare legs, smooth around my hips and embraced me tight, burying her head into my shoulder.
"I miss you so much, you know. At college, I mean. It get's so lonely..." she shivered slightly. At the cold or the thought of missing me, I didn't know. I held her tighter anyway. "And tempting," she added.
"Mmm," I muttered. I knew the temptation well. My first book of poems had made it published into a magazine by then and I already had the female attention. Then again, I knew she was getting plenty of male attention too. I'd been to her college once, and she was clearly a major distraction and big deal to her peers. The look on the professor's face when he walked in on us screwing in lab-coats underneath a working model of the solar system. I think I was living out the dream of the whole department. But there was trust, and there was love, and I didn't grudge her the way she shook her hips in her tight white coat. She aways was a flirt, and it was one of many many many reasons I loved her. She trusted me too. I sent her the odd poem here or there, the ones that would never be published, thank God. My mom would murder me, the publishers, and the object of my desires, the highest attaining physics student in the country.
"Cheated on me yet?" I muttered sleepily.
"Not yet... trying... Nobody has standards as low as you, apparently."
"Yipee..." I kissed her again.
She sat up and rested on an elbow, the blanket slipped off of her shoulders.
"Wait..." I shushed her with a finger to her lips. I lifted the blanket just an inch, stared at her full breasts for a moment, and replaced it. "Carry on."
She rolled her eyes and lay back down, her head resting on my chest.
We lay in what I took to be dignified silence. I assume she saw it differently. I knew what we were both thinking though, and I was nervous. It was definitely happening, but I just couldn't think how...
I thought back to the social commentary we placed upon each and every cliché. So they were out. It couldn't be too overblown and romantic, because that wasn't how she rolled. Her romance was simplicity in itself, and it was a simplicity she had found in me. Average romance. See what I said about not pitying the average? Now watch this. It's copywright Harvey Morris.
"What are you doing Saturday?"
She was silent.
"I'm hanging out with you. We're going to a roller disco or something."
"Yeah. What about the Saturday after?"
"Uhhh... We're going to an elementary school aren't we? You're talking about your work."
I think at this point she had an inkling as to where I was headed. She didn't stop me. I already knew the answer, now I was just showing off.
"Right... and the Saturday after?"
"I think we're spending it together..."
"We are. And the one after that?"
"Elle," I grabbed the ring from under the pillow behind my head and showed it to her. It glowed pale in the moonlight, and had cost me every dime of every poem I had ever written. I'd tell her I won it in a grabber machine. "How about every Saturday after that? Forever?"
She took the ring, and put it on. She didn't even look at me. I could see the sheen over her eyes and heard the quiver in her voice as she answered me.
"Fuck off, Harvey. Go to sleep. If we end up being found by the caretakers in the morning, I'm never talking to you again."
"Here's hoping," I muttered, and set my cell to wake us at 5:45 – 4 hours from now, and 15 before the support staff started setting up the day.
"I love you."
"I love you, too."
I only woke once, to the sounds of her phone receiving a text message at 3am. Derek Fisher could go fuck himself. I just got French Kissed.
My cell rang in the early evening, just as the sky began to take on its first sheen of pink and the sun began it's descent behind the skyscrapers of the city behind me. I didn't even stop running, I just shoved the phone to my ear.
"Harvey, honey, are you ok?" It was Mom. Of course it was. I went missing 3 hours ago after my bride ran out on me at the altar. I can only imagine what conclusion would be drawn. I could see the headlines already. "Faggot poet kills self in emo display after wife runs out with manly man business tycoon." Or something like that. Why do we get such bad press? I can be a poet and still be cool. Christ.
"Yeah, mom, I'm fine."
"You sound out of breath, where are you? What's going on?"
"I'm just picking something up for the wedding reception, that's all. Is everyone still there?"
There was a long silence. I must have covered 50 yards before she replied.
"Harvey, come home. Tell me where you are, I'll send your father to get you..."
They all thought I was mad. I nearly laughed. Their reasoning was sound. Man left at altar after bride is stolen by best friend on a motorcycle. They'd all seen the films too. They knew she was gone. The best friend always beats the jerk. And to hear the snubbed groom say he was picking up something for the reception to the wedding he did not have would raise a few eyebrows.
"No, mom, is everyone still there?"
"Well... yes... we're all in the function room... We figured we'd get you drunk and it'd be a shame to waste all this wine..."
Spoken like a true Morris.
"Keep them there for a little while longer."
It did seem a little crazy. I was running all this way and banking all this effort one one look from the back of a bike. I wondered for a single moment if I didn't know Eleanor as well as I thought. Perhaps Derek really did know what she wanted and needed more then I did? I mean, he'd clrealy watched more chick flicks. He knew how this stuff went down. What was I doing? I was going to turn up and do what exactly? I'm hardly crashing a wedding, although I suppose this may as well be one. I knew how her mind worked. If he won her this night, I'd never get her back. Not saying she had a fickle heart, but it's a heart easily swayed, and when the swayer was Derek Fisher, best friend extraordinaire, known forever as the nice guy who never lusted after her, wanted for nothing and was now a millionaire. Hell, even I was tempted. It took a picture of her face in my mind to remind me which one of them I was chasing. My new shoes were killing. That's right, I ran all this way in shiny new shoes, and the bottoms roughly resembled my ankles after the long-haul run from the centre of town to Leafy Falls high school. The sun continued to set behind me, and my ankles and legs were killing me. My lungs were on fire, too. I kept running. I filled my head with that last look from the back of the bike. Oh God, If I got her back, I was going to make her pay for this. And it was only then I got to thinking... I have no plan. Derek had had some form of plan. He had turned up at exactly the right moment and he had come with the right equipment. He had come with a speech, he had come with words, and he had come without the history of being a huge jerk. True, he had given me most of that history, buy my history was still there. His was all pretty boy and perfect. All I was bringing with me was broken shoes, blistered feet, and a dashing smile. Thank God for that at least. It was the only time I nearly stopped. I considered it. I knew, with a hundred percent certainty that if I stopped running, I would never start again. She'd be gone for good, and I wondered if that was what she wanted. It takes guts to leave in front of all your family and friends, and run off for, what can only be assumed, is a happier existence with somebody else... Maybe. But the look. It just kept coming back, and driving me on, convincing me I was right in this mad run. I knew I had to be right. I even knew where he'd brought her, and I'd worked it all out by myself. She's told him about the first time I asked her out in the Gardens at school, and texted him on the night I asked her to be mine every Saturday and every day in between. He'd had it all spelled out for him that this was the place that meant the most to her, and I had to work it all out. Surely that meant something? It kept me going, even when my chest began to ache, and my vision blurred, I kept the tall central block of the high school in my sites. As the sun continued to set, it drew nearer, and still I had nothing. Nothing concrete, and I was nearly there. I had I love you. Good, but not great. Hardly original, and hardly revolutionary. He'd probably already said that 2 choreographed hours ago. He certainly said it plenty at the wedding. It was the typical cliché speech, and yet with a twist that had intrigued everyone. Even me. At one point, I thought even my parents were going to clap. His certainly did. Hers were smiling. It's odd. Everyone roots for the best friend. Even when he's the jerk. You've seen enough movies to know I'm not kidding.
The high school was old now, and out of use. I wondered, slightly impressed, when I saw his motorbike parked inside the chained up gates and railings. I had to scramble over the fence in a manner I'm sure wouldn't have won me any medals for grace. If they heard me, nobody challenged me, but the bike was refreshing. It means I was right and I knew my woman. And I knew Derek knew her too. I jogged across the car park, still racking my tired and dehydrated brain for what I was going to say. I knew I could put it down given a pen and told I'd get money for it, but that trash was never good enough for her. None of my talents were. Not even that really cool shit I did with my tongue when she asked so nicely. The only things that worked for her was when it came from left field. Where we fucked convention,a nd usually each other straight after. And that's what I was going to have to do here. I checked the gardens, but I hadn't really expected them to be there. That was TOO close, and Derek wouldn't want to woo her in the same spot I did, so I knew straight away where they'd be. Chemistry lab 211. I looked up from the same spot she had all those years ago when we had lain here, and sure enough, room 211 was the only room in the entire scramble of buildings with the odd flickering glow of light. Candle light. I paused. Music too. Soft, plinky shit. I knew right there and then that I'd won. I knew what was going on and I didn't move. I sat down.
He had planned it all, and planned it all so well. Too well. I pictured her face the moment she'd entered the room and seen candle-lights, and probably some soft elegant music she'd told him she liked once. It was beautiful in it's irony. The guy with the calculator got there precisely and quickly, but he had missed the method entirely. He had been told the answer, but not what to do with it. It was beautifully ironic in it's beautiful lack of irony. It made sense now I thought about it. Derek had missed the sarcasm with which me and Eleanor had appraised The Snail. He had missed the bitter irony in our proposal that she no doubt told him about in great length. And he had missed the irony in her. He had come at her full cliché, and what started as a perfect theft had turned into a messy smash and grab. He'd blown it. I almost felt bad for him.
It was there, 15 minutes later, she found me among the rhododendrons. She was a mess. Her make up had run, she'd lost a shoe, and her hair was windswept and tangled. There was even a comedy twig in it. Just for effect, I like to think.
"You look beautiful," I smirked.
Yes I did. I smirked. At the woman who had left me at the altar and ran off with her best friend. I insulted her and smirked about it.
"Fuck you," she groaned as she threw herself on the ground next to me, the ruffles of her dress spilling around her long stockinged legs.
"Have fun at school today, Miss French?" I leaned back coolly on my elbows. She knew I was loving every minute of it, and she couldn't do a thing about it. God, I love her so much when she's mad. Especially when it's not my fault.
"Don't you mean, Mrs Morris?"
I laughed. Long and hard. Not meanly, and not cruelly, but with a humour so genuine she had to join in. We laughed for a while, and a laugh led to a kiss, the kiss led to me falling back into the Rhododendron bush, and that led to the most desperate and passionate sex I'd ever had. She wondered aloud if 'That prick' could see her now, riding her boyfriend in her wedding dress in the middle of the High school green. She nearly had me at 'That prick.'
We lay there, her white dress slowly staining, my shoes ruined, blazer torn and shirt dirty. My bow-tie pleasantly intact and even fresh smelling. It was perfect.
"Harvey..." she looked up at me. The twig was still in her long, tousled dark hair, and the veil had found it's way to the back of her neck, knocked aside by passionate kisses. There were teeth marks on her neck. "I wasn't kidding about being Mrs Morris."
Her eyes said it all. I'm sorry. You're perfect. You know me. You're my everything. I didn't need her to say it, and I knew she wasn't going to.
"Well... What are you doing next Saturday?" I asked her.