A Wedding in Paradise

by R.J. Jacobs

 

                No way in hell I’m going. No fucking way. It makes zero sense. The groom is your friend. I hardly know him. We’ve never met!

                Friend probably isn’t the right word. He lived across the hall from you in college.        

                Why are you smiling? This isn’t funny! No, it’s not. You haven’t even talked to Sam in what? See, you don’t even know. If you’re not going, why would I? And we were supposed to be doing recon for our eventual wedding but you’ll never propose anyway, so . . .

                Sorry, but not sorry!

                I said I would take ‘some photos’, the bride is the one who started referring to me as ‘the photographer’. And you went along with it, mister too-sick-to-travel.

                I know the tickets are nonrefundable. I do get that you’re sick. Of course, I don’t think you’re making it up. Yes, I empathize. Maybe you’ll get better.

                Well, maybe.

                Okay, that’s bad. you hadn’t shown me that. Jesus. I’ve never seen your skin all blotchy that way. Still, maybe you’ll feel better by when it’s time to start getting ready. I can pack your stuff. You could just lie there. I’m not high! How can you laugh at me if you’re so super sick?

                Well, being turned away from boarding I hadn’t thought of. God, it would be terrible for you to get stuck down there. So, I agree. You can’t go. But I’m staying, too.

                Because it’s going to be so fucking awkward for me to be at a wedding, alone, where I know nobody. Plus, I’ll get asked over and over why you’re not there.

                Let’s not even talk about the news. You talked me into going despite those tourists who died down there. It probably is safer now, after those stories.

                God.

                Little consolation that will be as I’m being mugged and murdered.

                It probably is just a coincidence, but that doesn’t make me not unsettled!

                You’re throwing me to the wolves.

                No, I don’t think that’s a bit dramatic.

                I hate you.

                I’ll call you tonight.  

 

***

 

                How are you feeling? Well, that’s good. Sarcasm? Me? God, no. Why?

                Oh, right, because my boyfriend sat out the wedding he talked me into going to. but, no worries!

                It’s actually beautiful here. 

                Bumpy, pretty much the whole way down. The flight attendants wouldn’t have noticed you aren’t feeling well, trust me. But anyway, thanks for burying the headline. You didn’t mention Rick Anthem was the fucking wedding singer? Yes, as in the Rick Anthem. How in the hell did Sam pull that off?

                I find it hard to believe he wouldn’t mention it, at all. The man’s a legend. I personally had two of his albums when I was a kid. My mother had God knows how many.

                A little gray around the temples, but tan. Very, very tan, like a chestnut-brown panther striding through the lobby with that flowing mane. He honestly doesn’t look bad. He’ll be searching for prey by the light of tiki torches later, I’m sure.

                You sound pretty much the same as yesterday. Are you drinking enough fluids? That’s all I ever read a person should do. It must be important, right? So, drink up! Fluids, fluids, fluids!

                I’m lying down while my camera charges. Rehearsal starts in about two hours, with dinner, drinks, etcetera to follow, supposedly. You were right, the wedding party’s small, I’m sure they’ll keep it tame. I see what you mean about Sam being a nerd.

                Get some rest.

                I’m going to shut my eyes, too.

                I’m sorry I said that about you never wanting to get engaged, even though it’s been two years.

                Sorry, sorry. I know.

                I know.

                Wish you were here.

                Bye.

 

***

 

                What time is it?

                Because I’m still in bed. I’m staying horizontal for a while. Last night turned into a shit show. Sam may be a nerd, but one who’s not afraid to drink, apparently. In retrospect, I may have had a few too many, myself.

                I was drinking to numb my fears about being kidnapped, I’m telling myself.

                Not really, actually. Just a few shady characters hanging around the edges of the resort—no different from Florida, honestly.

                I felt dumb sitting alone, listening to your friends talk. And about you! You didn’t tell me you dated an exchange student from Brazil! I’m sure you did forget to mention it. I’m not mad, I just wish you’d told me so I didn’t look so surprised.

                But is there ever a good reason for drinking too much?

                Ha, yes, his tan is amazing. He’s really nice.

                You’d . . . Well, today’s the big day. Luckily there’s some time before the wedding. I turned in early, to give you some idea.

                You do sound better. From all that hydrating, I’m assuming.

                Sorry for yawning in your ear. I’m still mad you’re not here, but I’m managing to have a good time, at least.

                Hey, don’t forget to water the plant by the front door. Because you always forget and I’m the one who does it, and it looked a little, limp, or something, before I left.

                Jesus, what day even is it?

                Call you later, I’m going back to sleep. 

 

***

                WHAT? SORRY, I CAN HARDLY HEAR YOU. THE FIRE ALARM IS GOING OFF AND WE’RE ALL OUTSIDE. IT’S . . . oh. Well, it stopped. Are you still there? Well, that was nuts! We were right in the middle of the reception, Rick Anthem was about to play for the bride’s dance with her dad and all of a sudden there was this insanely loud noise. Like, loud at the level of: I may never hear right again. And now it’s RAINING! So TROPICAL. I’m going back in.

                It’s funny, actually. Everyone’s running in.

                Oh, maybe slightly tipsy, but I’m getting some great shots. The wedding is fun! Everyone is dancing. I’m honestly glad I came, now.

                Wait.

                Hang on.

                . . .

                Sorry, I’ll call you later.

                Feel better! Bye!

 

***

 

                Hey. Sorry.

                It turned into kind of a late night. I definitely got some amazing photos, they’re going to be happy. And I’m not kidnapped, so that’s good. I guess I am a little chipper, now that you mention it.

                Supposed to be tonight, but I’m actually staying another day.

                It was actually not hard to change. People do it all the time.

                Will you listen?

                Because Rick saw some of my photos and asked me to take a couple of head shots for him. We went to his room to dry off, and . . .

                Rick Anthem, yes.

                A big group of us.

                Your friends.

                Well, I think it sounds fun. He’s paying me to do it, and I don’t have to be back until Monday. It’ll take a few hours. I like taking photos, remember?

                Sorry, sorry. How are you feeling?

                You sound like yourself.

                Sorry. Because I’m eating breakfast. I’m meeting Rick in an hour and I have to get ready.

                Why are you mad?

                I don’t mean to laugh. It isn’t like you weren’t invited!

                Look, I’m going to go.

                Call you after the shoot.

 

***

                Hey! I’m fine!

                I was just talking about . . .

                What?

                They all left last night.

                I’ll call you when I get back to the hotel.

                Later on? I have no idea.

                What?

                Talk soon. I’m fine.

                . . .

                Okay, bye.

 

***

 

                Hi.

                You sound better. You do.

                Because I got caught up.

                Up. Held up, caught up. Up, I don’t know.

                Rick is actually very, very deep.

                You find a lot of things hard to believe.

                I’m at the airport.

                I have the weirdest feeling. I don’t know how to describe it.

                Like . . . I don’t want to come home.

                Rick’s flight leaves in an hour. He asked me to visit him.

                There. I said it.

                Whenever. Which now technically is.

                LA.

                I already did.

                I called the office.

                Look, you’re not making this easy.

                I don’t know.

                I don’t know.

                I’m glad you’re better. Honesty, you never really seemed that sick.

                Don’t let the plant die, okay?

                It doesn’t get enough sun.

                I think I will go to LA.

                I just now decided.

                They’re going to start boarding soon. 

R.J. Jacobs Lives in Nashville, where he maintains a private practice as a psychologist. Since completing his post-doctoral residency at Vanderbilt University, he has taught Abnormal Psychology, presented at numerous conferences, and routinely performs PTSD evaluations for veterans. His novel And Then You Were Gone was released in March 2019. His upcoming novel, titled Somewhere in the Dark, is scheduled for publication in fall of 2020.

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October 2019

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