San Antonio, TX
There was a courthouse wedding of a nondisabled man, Franklin “Frankie” Jones and an autistic/type 1 diabetic woman, Frances “Frankie” Phoenix. She kept her maiden name to avoid confusion. He was a year older than she was. They chose not to pull off a regular wedding for financial reasons and to avoid the stress of wedding planning. He dressed up like Luke Skywalker from Star Wars and she dressed up both like Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Frozen‘s Elsa. Frankie Phoenix had a golden crown on her head. Her hair was in a braid with a blue bow. She wore a yellow top and a blue winterly skirt.
Jennifer and Jessica dressed casually in jeans and blouses. Other than them, the other witnesses were the parents of both bride and groom, a cousin, a grandparent, and a mutual friend who introduced the couple.
The reception took place at the backyard of the bride’s parents’ duplex. It was a combination of a Disney Princess/Marvel/Star Wars themed party. Everyone dressed up like the characters from those movies. The buffet, catered by the Hill brothers, seemed more like a barbecued picnic or a costume party. There was seafood, cheese fondue to dip meatballs and other appetizers in, make-your-own salads, steamed vegetables, grilled chicken, fruit cups, and mini pizzas, cheeseburgers, egg rolls, and quesadillas. Two cakes were for dessert. One was a sugar-free Disney princess-themed cake with all of the Disney princesses on each layer. The other cake was a sugary flat Star Wars stormtrooper. Jessica snapped a few pictures of the party.
Overwhelmed with large sensory overload, the bride ran inside her duplex apartment to cool down. She had a plate of some of the snacks with her. Feeling hungry, she checked her blood sugar levels. The result was 55. She ate a mini quesadilla and a fruit cup and guzzled down a diet Coke.
Meanwhile, Jennifer briefly interviewed Mrs. Phoenix at the picnic table. She had no problem with Jennifer’s recording the interview. She explained the reasons for the courthouse wedding and how stress harms her daughter’s medical condition. She and Mr. Phoenix established a guardianship for their daughter when she was eighteen to protect her from people taking advantage of her because of autism. Her diabetes diagnosis was a few years ago. Then, Jones entered the picture and he became the guardian when he married Phoenix. The Phoenixes were certain that he will take good care of her. He passed the tolerance test and earned the family’s approval. The interview ended with the mother saying it was time for the cake to be cut. Jennifer said this over the recorder, “Luke Skywalker marries Queen Belsa.”
During the cutting part, Jones cut a piece of the princess cake and fed it to Phoenix. And she cut a piece of the stormtrooper cake and fed it to Jones.
For the couple’s first dance, the DJ played Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” an Oscar-winning song from The Lion King. Then, the bride danced to “My Girl” with her father and the groom danced with his mother to Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me.” Afterwards, Phoenix sat on a chair on the middle of the grass. As a surprise for her, Jones sang Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” and some of the lyrics of Bruno Mars’s “Just the Way You Are.” Everyone, including Phoenix, was utterly touched. She shed a few tears.
Meanwhile, Jennifer was extremely jealous when an ugly bridesmaid was hitting on Robbie. Clearly, she was too blind to see that he was faking. Jennifer left, huffily. Robbie noticed that and chased after her. He convinced her that he was not interested in the bridesmaid. Jennifer impulsively kissed him.
At the Riverwalk Hotel, after they emailed Naomi the San Antonio piece, Jennifer and Jessica relaxed, drinking wine and watching Hercules movie on TV. After the movie ended, Jessica couldn’t decide between My Big Fat Greek Wedding or Four Weddings and a Funeral. Jennifer did Pilates while watching some slapstick comedy movie on her iPad. They were already informed that the wedding in San Francisco was delayed for some reason which was fine with them.
The next day, they went out on a spontaneous double date with the Hills. The Hills couldn’t go to Miami on account of a hurricane. They’ll go to another city in a couple of days. At the Riverwalk, Jessica and Ryan watched the ducks while Robbie and Jennifer joked around. Jennifer didn’t care much for the annoying ducks. Robbie thought birdwatching was boring unlike Ryan who thought it was fascinating.
Furthermore, they toured at the Alamo for an hour. The Alamo was a home to both of the Revolutionaries and Royalists during Mexico’s ten-year struggle for independence during the Texas Revolution. Jessica recalled visiting San Antonio as a child. She wished that she could go to Fredericksburg to see her family, but they were camping at Lake Somerville.
Both of the couples decided to date separately. Jessica and Ryan went to see a new drama romantic film at the AMC theatres. Jessica wiped her tears with tissue at the sad scene. Ryan put his arm around her. Butterflies were in her stomach. He could feel that she placed her hand close to his crotch. He felt turned on. Then, they headed back to his room at the Holiday Inn Hotel. Thankfully, Robbie wasn’t back yet.
While pop music was jamming from Ryan’s Kindle Fire HD tablet, Jessica and Ryan copied Jessica’s drawing of a sandwich tower except the drawing had two robots as the builders. She drew it during one of her flights. Ryan thought the picture was comical. It was his idea to copy the pic. The sandwich ingredients were ham, turkey, roast beef, chicken, bacon (both American and Canadian), lettuce, tomato, mustard, mayonnaise, pickles, and Feta cheese. Culinary arts have always been part of him and Robbie since they were teenagers. They loved eating and cooking not only for them, but for other people. Jessica told him about her failed art career and how she got into travel photography.
“So, what did you think of the wedding pictures from yesterday?” asked Jessica.
“Remarkable! Fabulous!” exclaimed Ryan. “You included the buffet! Some of the partygoers said that the salad ingredients tasted like garbage.”
“Well, I disagree. The make-your-own salad thing was fine. Overall, the buffet was delicious, luscious, and scrumptious. I tried a sample of each food item,” said Jessica. “Although, the Princess cake was delectable, it made me toot.”
“It was for the disabled bride,” said Ryan. “She was diabetic.”
“That’s an understatement,” said Jessica.
Ryan stacked more of the meat. They completed the sandwich with one last piece of bread. It was tall as the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building. Exactly like Jessica’s drawing except the robots. The sandwich tower was at least one inch away from the ceiling. Jessica took a picture of it with her iPhone. While taking a selfie, the sandwich fell on top of them. Food and condiments were all over them. They laughed. She jumped on his arms. They fell on the bed and made out. They released the kiss.
Pause of silence. There was a spark.
“Um…Jessica?” said Ryan.
“Yes?” asked Jessica.
Ryan swiped the meat off her hair.
“It might seem a bit fast. You’re the most wonderful woman I ever met. I like…uh, like, uh love…being around you. I love you,” stammered Ryan. “Wait, what?”
Jessica put her finger on his mouth and shushed him. “I haven’t felt this way since the divorce and my last two post-divorce relationships. I love you too.”
They leaned toward the kiss and had sex.
Meanwhile, Robbie taught Jennifer how to play hockey with a ball at Canyon Lake. Jennifer compared it to cricket. As she hit the ball with a hockey stick, Robbie grabbed her by the waist. “GOTCHA!” They laughed loudly. He spun her around.
His pin that said “DRUG ADDICT SUPPORT GROUP” accidentally fell out of his pocket. Jennifer picked it up, read it, and handed it back to Robbie. During their picnic, Robbie opened up about his heroin addiction from ten years ago. He was lonely and depressed after his mother died of breast cancer. His workaholic father neglected him. His addiction cost him his job from a five-star bistro. He went to rehab where he started cooking again. That’s how he met his ex-fiancee. After rehab, cooking with Ryan strengthened their brotherly relationship. Besides, they always wanted to see the world and catering was a better opportunity for them than a regular restaurant job. Right now, the company was declaring bankruptcy. Jennifer swore to keep that to herself. Frankly, Robbie’s fear of the addiction gene being passed on was the reason why he chose not to have children. Jennifer felt sorry for him and his awful past. Much to Robbie’s relief, she was nonetheless non-judgmental.
Anyway, they made a toast with Pinot wine for fun. Robbie put on Spandau Ballet’s “True” on his iPhone. He offered Jennifer his hand, asking him to dance with her. She accepted it. Jennifer remembered what Jessica taught her back in South Korea. They danced smoothly. Jennifer loved smelling the cologne on Robbie. He stroked her hair gently and smelled it.
When the song ended, Robbie dared Jennifer to jump in the lake naked. They swam around singing songs randomly. Robbie sang off-key.
“You are the worst singer ever,” said Jennifer jokingly. “You should take singing lessons.”
“Ha, ha, ha, very funny, lol,” said Robbie sarcastically.
He noticed that Jennifer looked mortified.
“What’s wrong?” asked Robbie.
“I’m peeing in the lake,” said Jennifer.
“That’s ok. Me too. It won’t pollute the water. Nobody’s here,” said Robbie.
“Good thing, this isn’t a public pool. Otherwise, we’d be in a lot of hot water,” said Jennifer.
She splashed at Robbie. He splashed back. They swam around in circles. Robbie beckoned Jennifer with his finger. She swam closer to him. He caressed her face and kissed her. Later, they dried off in the air and had sex at her hotel room. Good thing for them, Jessica and Ryan weren’t there.
Afterwards, Robbie wanted to move forward and start dating or possibly commit to Jennifer. He trusted her because she was different than his ex. Jennifer doubted this. Even though she knew he was different than her exes, she didn’t want to make the same mistakes she made in the past. She questioned that if their relationship ended badly, would he go back to drugs? Robbie said that would be different. Their possible relationship could be a fresh start for both of them.
“You know, long-distance relationships don’t last forever,” said Jennifer. “Don’t you think we’re rushing into this?”
“Not really. Maybe. Look, we’ll figure things out when we finish our jobs. If my company ever does go out of business, Ryan and I might start our own travelling catering company as a back-up plan,” said Robbie.
Jennifer snuggled up to him. She kissed him on the chest and the neck. He was very aroused.
That evening, Jennifer and Jessica went out for a drink at a Mexican restaurant near the Riverwalk. They ran into the Hills who were celebrating that the catering company was back on track financially. They drank a lot of beer and margaritas with tacos, burritos, and chips with guacamole and salsa. One thing led to another.
The next day, at 11 a.m., Jennifer and Ryan woke up next to each other in bed, disoriented.
“Oh my god! S—! F—!”
“What the h— happened last night?”
“I’m not sure. We were at that Mexican restaurant. We had all that beer and those margaritas. We indulged in all that Mexican food. And…uh…uh…one thing led to another…”
“Let’s check the other bed.”
Jennifer and Ryan took a peek under the sheets on the bed next to them. Jessica and Robbie were snoring. They shook the sleepers. Jessica and Robbie opened their eyes slowly. Jessica faced Jennifer.
“Good morning,” said Jessica.
“Jessica, look at your left and don’t scream,” said Jennifer. She whispered, “It’s not Ryan in bed with you.”
Jessica moved her body toward left. She and Robbie screamed. They panicked, getting out of bed.
“Ok, everyone, let’s all calm down! Does anybody remember exactly what happened last night?” said Ryan.
“I know. You f—– my guy, you sl–!” said Jessica stepping on Jennifer’s foot.
“Oww! How dare you! You’re the one who f—– MY MAN!” said Jennifer.
She slapped Jessica on the face.
“You f—- my girl, you son of a b—-!” shouted Robbie. He shoved Ryan.
“Hey, don’t do that!” shouted Ryan. “That is unacceptable.” He shoved Robbie back. Their fight got out hand. Jennifer and Jessica had a catfight.
Everyone stopped fighting, catching their breathe. Robbie got up and said,”F— all of you.” He walked off and slammed the door. Ryan glanced at the ladies, shrugged, and left. He was too embarrassed to say anything to them.
“You’re an insane b—-! No wonder you don’t have any friends,” said Jessica.
Jennifer was taken aback at this. “F— you, a—hole!”
Jessica ripped her friendship bracelet off her wrist. She threw it at Jennifer like a baseball pitcher. She headed outside and slammed the door. Jennifer pushed her face on a pillow to muffle her scream.
Blimey! thought Jennifer.
She cried a little. The entire room smelled like trash. At the end of her bed, she noticed a box of empty graffiti cans and a dirty bowl of spoiled fruit and melted ice cream. The walls were painted in red, purple, pink, blue, black, yellow, green, and white.
At the Mexican restaurant, the duo and their dates danced to a salsa band. Jennifer ordered more beer and margaritas. They waddled at the Riverwalk. Jessica and Ryan were way drunker than Jennifer and Robbie. Oblivious to them, they sang songs with cursive words loudly. Pedestrians glared at them. Parents covered their children’s ears. Robbie told Jessica and Ryan to keep it down.
At the streets, Jessica stole a box of graffiti cans from a sleeping, homeless person. “Oooh, these look pretty.”
“Hey, I got an idea! Let’s go skinny-dipping!” suggested Robbie.
“Count me in! Don’t care where!” said Jennifer. “LET’S PARTYYYYY! AND SHAKE OUR BOOOOTTAAAY!”
At the back of an unfamiliar apartment building, Jennifer, Jessica, and the Hills climbed over a gated fence and went skinny dipping in a swimming pool. Suddenly, half of the water turned yellow. Jessica painted a little on the pavement red, blue, and pink. She vomited all over the bushes and dropped the cans in the box. She joined Jennifer and the Hills in the pool. Jennifer did the butterfly stroke and swam underwater. She popped out of the pool. Ryan swam to the edge of the pool and vomited out of the pool. Soon, they heard police sirens. Some of the apartment building’s lights were turned on.
“Oh, c—! We better go! Hurry!” said Ryan.
Everyone climbed out of the pool, grabbed their clothes and scampered off. Jessica grabbed her box and caught up with everyone else. Further away, they managed to get dressed and headed back to the ladies’ room at the Riverwalk hotel.
On the floor, Jennifer was lying down on her back with her bowl of fruit and ice cream resting on her chest. Jessica painted all over the walls in graffiti. Robbie and Ryan jumped on separate beds singing oldies and newbies randomly off-key. They stopped jumping and passed out. Jessica passed out on the bed that Robbie’s on. Jennifer swiped the bowl away, got herself up, and passed out on the bed Ryan’s on.
Jennifer cringed. “Bloody h—.” She listened to a variety of music including Adele and Jennifers Hudson and Lopez on her iPod while tidying up her room a little and put the dish out. She decided to let housekeeping do the rest. She searched around for semen, condoms, birth control pills, etc. No proof of sexual intercourse the previous night.
What have I done? thought Jennifer. She grabbed her iPhone from her purse and texted Jessica.
Meanwhile, Jessica cured her hangover with a Starbucks coffee and walking down the streets. Her iPhone beeped three times. She whipped it out and read three apology texts with a sad emojis from Jennifer. She put it away.
I’m gonna have to find a new partner. A partner who’s not a backstabbing friend. If I did right now, will it mess up the assignment? thought Jessica.
Without becoming too obvious, she overheard one young woman forgiving her best friend for drunkenly sleeping with her boyfriend. They will always be friends no matter what happens. Friendship was about loyalty and unconditional love.
Jessica thought, That fight was so stupid and immature. We’re adults. We’ll work something out. Given these circumstances, I doubt it. I feel terrible about this whole mess. Maybe I ought to go see the Hills first and apologize. What the h— happened last night?
She gasped in realization when she had the same flashback as Jennifer’s. She headed down to the Holiday Inn, knocked on the Hills’ door, and nobody answered. She knocked a few more times. She left, disappointed. She thought, They must’ve checked out. I don’t blame them.
On her way back to the Riverwalk Hotel, she thought, What should I say to her? If she doesn’t wanna talk to me, I’ll understand. I’ll just take that chance.
Meanwhile, Jennifer drew a picture of two female robots on the hotel notepad with a pen. The robots looked exactly like her and Jessica. Below was the word, ‘BFF’ in huge letters. Jessica entered their room quietly. No greeting, salutation, nothing. It was an awkward, silent moment between them.
Jennifer covered her face with the picture.
Jessica chuckled. “Cute.”
Jennifer lowered down the picture to show her face.
Jessica said, “Hey, listen. I recalled what happened—“
“Last night?” interrupted Jennifer. She explained her flashback.
“That’s so weird. I remembered the exact same thing,” said Jessica.
“All those pieces fit together like a puzzle,” said Jennifer.
“Boy! What a crazy, wild night we had.”
“Blimey, yeah! We got away!”
“We could’ve been caught! Trespassing, skinny-dipping, public intoxication. Thankfully, we were fast enough to run away from the police! Do you think that building had security cameras?”
Jennifer tapped her chin, thinking. She shrugged. “Not that I noticed. Maybe not. If it did…busted! “
“Sorry, I didn’t respond to your texts. I needed time to think it over,” said Jessica.
Jennifer nodded. She sighed. “I am so sorry about this morning. Physical violence is unacceptable. We were such idiots making a big deal over nothing. We barked up the wrong tree. Actually, it was my fault. I should have never ordered more booze.”
Jessica shook her head. “Don’t blame yourself. We all f—– up. People get drunk all the time. It happens.”
Jennifer cringed. “By the way, I searched for condoms and stuff around here. Nothing happened. Like I said, no proof of sexual intercourse from the previous night.”
“Are you sure?” asked Jessica.
“Positive,” said Jennifer. “It’s not in my memory bank either.”
Jessica looked around and realized that Jennifer was right.
“Speaking of the Hills, I wouldn’t worry about them for a while. They’re brothers. They’ll work it out amongst themselves. They’ll come around eventually and…hopefully. I think they already checked out. I don’t blame them,” said Jessica. “Look, I still love you no matter what, bestie. And you’re still my partner. Our friendship means a lot to me. I would never cross the line by sleeping with someone else’s boyfriend or whatever he is to you.”
“Me either. That’s the ultimate betrayal. After I lost a few friends and two fiancés, I always put my career first. I never cared for anyone until I met you. You’re my best friend,” said Jennifer.
They embraced tightly. They went outside and watched an eagle fly. It landed on the pole of the Texas flag. They wore their friendship bracelets again. Jennifer arm-hugged Jessica.
“Once again, I’m really sorry about the misunderstanding,” said Jennifer.
“Let it go, ok? It’s over,” said Jessica. “It’s all good.”
They stayed like that for a while and let go.
“Are you in love with Ryan?” asked Jennifer. “Just curious.”
Jessica smiled. “Yes. He makes me happy. Are you in love with Robbie?”
Jennifer scoffed. “No.”
“Yeah, right, girl, you are in love with him. No shame in that.”
Jennifer mentioned Robbie’s drug addiction and her doubts of a possible relationship with him. Jessica said that Ryan already told her about Robbie’s heroin addiction.
“I don’t want to make the same mistakes I made in the past. I’m afraid of getting hurt,” said Jennifer. “What if he starts using again? It’ll be my fault if he does.”
“Every relationship is different,” said Jessica. “Second chances are the next steps in life. I always have faith in myself and so should you. Don’t let your doubts and fears push people away. Maybe I’ll be happy if Ryan’s the guy for me. Amid long-distance.”
The girls packed up their things after Naomi informed them that the San Francisco wedding was tomorrow. Their flight leaves in a few hours.
At the airport, Jennifer and Jessica tried calling and emailing the Hills, but they haven’t responded. No such luck.
While sleeping, Jennifer dreamt about her singing “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” from the movie, Hercules.
Jennifer wandered around at the Canyon Lake.
If there’s a prize for rotten judgment,
I guess, I’ve already won that.
No man is worth the aggravation.
That’s ancient history, been there, done that.
Jessica and a bunch of robots popped out of a tree.
JESSICA and ROBOTS:
Who do you think you’re kiddin’?
He’s the earth and heaven to you
Try to keep it hidden
Honey, we can see right through you.
(JENNIFER: Oh no!)
Girl, you can’t conceal it.
We know how you feel and
Who you’re thinking of.
Jennifer walked away.
No chance, no way I won’t say it, no, no
JESSICA and ROBOTS:
You swoon, you sigh
Why deny it? Uh, oh
It’s too cliché.
I won’t say I’m in love.
JESSICA & ROBOTS:
Shoo doo, shoo doo, oooh!
Jennifer stared at her reflection on the lake.
I thought my heart had learned its lesson.
It feels so good when you start out.
(stood up and threw her arms up in the air)
My head is screaming, get a grip, girl.
Unless you’re dying to cry your heart out.
Jennifer wandered while Jessica and the robots were dancing.
JESSICA & ROBOTS:
You keep on denying who you are and how you’re feeling.
Baby, we’re not buying.
Hon, we saw you hit the ceiling
(JENNIFER: Oh no!)
Face it like a grown up.
When you gonna own up.
That you got, got, got it bad.
Jennifer sat down at a picnic table.
No chance, no way I won’t say it, no, no.
A picture of Robbie magically appeared on the picnic table. Jennifer grinned.
JESSICA & ROBOTS:
Give up, give in! Check the grin you’re in love.
Jennifer threw the picture away.
This scene won’t play.
I won’t say I’m in love!
She walked further away from the table. Jessica and the robots followed her.
JESSICA & ROBOTS:
You’re doin’ flips.
Read our lips.
You’re in love
You’re way off base.
I won’t say it no.
Get off my case.
I won’t say it.
JESSICA & ROBOTS:
Girl, don’t be proud.
It’s okay, you’re in love.
One of the robots picked a red rose from a bush and gave it to Jennifer. She accepted it, grinned, and spun around.
Ooh! At least out loud.
I won’t say I’m in love.
She fell down on the grass.
A huge toot woke Jennifer up. Jessica stifled her giggles. Her face was covered in the book, Gone Girl. Jennifer shushed her. She read a Maya Angelou book.
“I told you not to eat that bean burrito for lunch,” whispered Jessica.