Saturday, March 29, 2008
by Peter Dudley
As the plane taxied to the gate, Brandon stood up, opened the overhead compartment and started pulling out our carry-ons. He huffed and glared at me, but I refused to help. A stewardess rushed up to him from the back of the cabin, calling out, "Please, sir, return to your seat and keep your seatbelt fastened until the pilot has turned off the seatbelt sign!"
I couldn't hear the response he growled at her, but it must have been a doozy. She signaled to someone in the back, and almost instantaneously a male flight attendant from Business Class appeared. He repeated the "please remain seated" speech. His stance made clear that it wasn't a request.
I almost laughed aloud as Brandon picked up his carry-on from his seat and then sat down gingerly. I didn't want to be on this trip any more than he did, but his attitude wasn't going to help matters any.
After all, it was his trust fund at stake.
As the flight attendants drifted away, I looked at Buffalo's snowy tarmac. April had begun, yet this awful corner of nowhere still looked like December. Virginal white, the same color I'd be wearing when my father would hand me over, officially, to Brandon tomorrow.
I stifled a laugh at the thought. I had yet to meet Brandon's far-right, ultra Christian family, but Brandon had already slept with more than one of my dad's free-love hippie boyfriends back in San Francisco. No way Dad would be able to hold it together.
But who knew that Brandon's bachelor party studmuffin, Bigus Dickus the God of Love, would also work in Delta business class?
Fifteen minutes afterwards we watched suitcases slog around the baggage carousel. Without warning, I found myself smothered in kisses from a plaster-cheeked, face-lifted, woman with enormous hair. When I finally wriggled free, I had no trouble becoming the gleeful bimbo they expected. Brandon's parents had missed their calling as circus clowns and somehow landed in life as filthy rich people with bad taste.
Even frequent open-mouth kisses with Brandon seemed fun. Brandon clearly wanted to barf, but his parents ate it all up. Within five minutes I had them thinking Brandon and I were both straight.
As my future father-in-law plucked Brandon's luggage from the carousel—I had tied the cutest little rainbow ribbons on the handles—I gazed doe-eyed into Brandon's eyes and held his hands. Then his focus shifted, and his hands went cold and sweaty, like fish on ice. A cool, smooth baritone drifted over my shoulder. "Hi, I wanted to thank you." The male stripper-cum-flight attendant breezed up next to us.
"Um... OK." Brandon's reply wavered and cracked like a Mouseketeer on meth. "Uh... why?" He regretted the question the moment it left his lips. Duh, Brandon. Remember last night? Your bachelor party? Bigus Dickus totally living up to his stage name?
"For your cooperation on the flight, of course." A sly wink accompanied Bigus' extended hand, which Brandon took gingerly. They held a little too long, and I felt Brandon's parents stop and stare. "And," added Bigus, whose Delta name tag read Trevor, "I thought maybe we could—"
"Thanks," I butted in, "but we really have to go." I looked around at my small herd of future cash cows, seeing nervous relief in every face. "Girl stuff before the wedding!" I waved my big diamond ring in Bigus' face.
He frowned, confused. "Wedding?" He glared the unspoken question at Brandon.
"Trust fund," I hissed, hoping only Brandon and Bigus could hear.
Brandon stared into my eyes, and I could see something forming there I didn't like. He was thinking, and that was never a good thing—now seeing his parents I understood why—and I could sense my million dollar payout slipping away.
Brandon dropped my hand and aimed himself at his parents. "Mom. Dad. I need to be honest. The only reason I'm marrying Lily is to satisfy your stupid trust fund requirements." My heart started jumping around like Richard Simmons on fast forward. He was giving it all up, including the million he promised me for being his "wife" for a year. The stupid ass! "You can keep your ten million. It's time I came out of the closet and demanded you love me for who I really am."
He took a deep breath and turned to Bigus. "Trevor, do you want to go have a drink with me?"
The whole world stopped. Brandon's parents looked like people frozen in time. Other travelers stopped walking and listened. Baggage stopped rotating on the carousel. Planes stopped flying. Plants stopped growing. Clouds stopped drifting in the breeze.
Trevor's gaze hopped from one to the next and ultimately met mine. Then he started in with a low chuckle, which turned into a laugh, which became a guffaw. I glanced at Mr. and Mrs. Cash Cow and saw them wavering, so I gave a little airheaded titter, too, then pointed at them and laughed for real. "April Fool!" I screeched.
Soon everyone but Brandon was laughing, and while the world resumed turning, I whispered in his ear, "If you do that again, I'll fucking kill you. I don't want to be on this trip any more than you, but fix your damn attitude, you asshole." Big smile for the Cash Cows. "And get his phone number, idiot."