This is Part II of yesterday’s excerpt of The Angel Twin. In short, it is the rest of the chapter. This is day three of the NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge and though I have managed to keep up with the word count that will put me at 50K words in another 27 days, well, let’s just say I am flying by the seat of my pants and wondering whether or not I can do this. I’ll post another excerpt, once I can get through the first week. In the meantime, thanks for the good wishes. Please keep them coming. Here you go:
Rabbi Rosenthal was the only Rabbi in all of Los Angeles who was willing to perform a “mixed marriage.” The couple that sat before him in his paneled study, lined with books, was a shiksha goddess and a young Jew, who had been raised in the Fairfax district of the city. The rabbi had learned that Martin’s parents were not members of a temple; Martin had not been bar mitzvahed; and Martin himself seemed pretty much an atheist. And yet, here they were, like so many couple before them employing a Jewish Rabbi with all the gear to perform the wedding ceremony. That he might return Martin to the fold, was not an entertained thought. That Sami might convert and raise their children in the Jewish faith seemed a stretch. But a wedding was a wedding, and as the couple filled out the check and slid it across the desk, the rabbi leaned back in his leather swivel chair and smiled the smile of resolve.
From the old Rabbi’s perspective, this was going to be more like a “mixed up marriage” than a mixed marriage. As the requisite meeting came to an end, the short lecture about children and faith was met with nods and smiles from Sami and Martin and it was very clear that neither one of them had a clue. The stupor of humor and the faint smell of pot said it all.
Rabbi Rosenthal was a good choice for an officiate, though. He looked like he was straight out of Central Casting. A large and robust man, whose face was framed by snow-white hair and a long white beard, he had the look of someone who had actually been on Mt Sinai and talked with Moses personally, just before he showed up for your wedding. The old man rose from his chair and his desk as the couple left his study, and then clucked and shook his head as the door shut behind them.
Before Martin and Sami joined their guests for the reception, the photographer snapped pictures. This, as far as Sami was concerned, was the whole reason for a wedding—the pictures. She wanted lots and lots of pictures. Pictures that captured a beautiful young woman in a long white gown, the princess at the ball; pictures that could be framed in silver and wood and placed around her house for everyone to see; pictures that portrayed a loving family all leaning together and squinting into the sun as the photographer captured a moment that wasn’t a moment at all, but their real life. Sami wanted pictures that covered up the wild and crazy Sami who took drugs at her wedding. She wanted pictures that made her look normal, acceptable and upstanding. Though she would never tell you that, wasn’t really even aware of it herself, I knew when she and Martin stood on the bridge, heads tilted to touch one another, each of them holding a champagne glass in their hands and each of them smiling a smile that revealed straight white teeth, and sparkling eyes. I knew the posed photographs would be cherished as something to be not just remembered, but something to be aspired to in the grand scheme of things.
But here is the truth. There wasn’t anyone at the King/Fedderman wedding that day, who wasn’t baked. Mrs. King, Sami’s mother had long ago changed her name, several times in fact, with several latest, greatest husbands. But for the sake of clarity and your ability to follow, I will just refer to her as “Mrs. King.” Mrs. King had awakened on Sami’s wedding day and gone directly to the plastic medicine box in her suitcase. A wonderful plastic medicine box, that was really a bead box from a craft store, but held so many more pills than those silly little pill holders you could purchase at the pharmacy. Sami’s mother was a middle-aged woman who had put on weight in recent years. The once slender and sexy woman was now a little dowdy, a little more motherly looking for her age. Mrs. King was blessed with wonderful relationships with several doctors who regularly prescribed a cocktail of speed and Valium, along with other things too. She was especially fond of sleeping pills that eased here into the darkness of night, into deep, undreaming sleep, that never quite satisfied her insatiable need for rest. She appreciated all of her morning uppers with her fresh juice. She was a Mormon now, a slightly frumpy woman who eschewed the evils of caffeine and alcohol. She had landed on this identity when she realized that her last husband was a collector of pornography. Marrying a Mormon, even converting to the faith made her feel that she had smoothed out the bumpier edges of her life and was now on track to being a nice, “normal” wife. Mrs. King too craved “normal.”
Mrs. King had married a man named Nick who was a teacher in the church; who never swore; who did not drink; and whose air force past seemed oh so respectable. And he gently enabled the salt and peppered hair Mrs. King to procure boxes full of legal, necessary medicine to get her through her days. Each pill, in Mrs. King’s mind, was an absolute medical necessity and often when she was alone, she would count them, placing them carefully in the plastic medicine box, grateful for all the many colors and moods that they provided. And on this day, her daughter’s wedding day, she had taken a combination of pain medication for that pesky back pain she so bravely endured, a muscle relaxer and some sort of mood elevator that made her feel happy and alert. She washed it all down with a healthy glass of California orange juice, on the balcony of her hotel room, while enjoying the California sun.
And then there was Mrs. Fedderman, the groom’s mother. Mrs. Fedderman had gone directly to her medicine cabinet first thing that morning and also enjoyed a cocktail of uppers and downers, but unlike the more health conscious Mrs. King, Mrs. Fedderman had poured herself a strong cup of coffee, cooling it down with a fair amount of cream, so that she could wash down what would be her “breakfast.”
Meanwhile back at the wedding, when Martin stepped on the glass and the guests yelled Mazal Tov, three swans moved on cue across the lake, and the photographer captured the picture of two young people looking through a haze of pot and Valium into each other’s eyes as if in love. The whirr and click of the camera that followed Sami and Martin throughout the day was held by a photographer, who unlike the Rabbi, didn’t see two kids in trouble, but knew that his job was to make the worst look the best, so that women like Sami could point to a moment in time, placed in a silver frame and say “that was my wedding day, wasn’t it beautiful?”
The Hotel Bel-Air has a wedding hall, a formal dining room close to the area where brides and grooms say their vows, and a short haired wedding planner in a pale peach suit ushered all 100 guests, who had been given glasses and champagne, into that room with army like precision. Because once the bubble of this happy moment is vowed, fed and danced, the next wedding has already been set up outside and it’s going to be time for you to go. And so it was in the wearing off blur of drugs and champagne, that friends and family filed out the door, having witnessed the Sami and Martin show on a summer afternoon in Los Angeles.
As much as Sami craved those pictures framed in silver, the pictures of happiness and normalcy, Martin craved the wedding gifts. Piles and piles of wedding gifts, all of which had been placed in a garden room with a king sized bed where the two would spend the night. The bridal suite was heavily wall-papered and coordinated with comforters and matching pillows all in some dark red and brown colors that seemed more sinister than wedding like. But the room was tasteful, beautiful in fact. The French doors to the balcony could be seen from the bed along with the rich green foliage that surrounded the small outdoor balcony, a balcony that held a wicker table and chairs upon which they could have breakfast.
On the back of the tall, white bathroom door, Christine had hung a long black and sheer robe with matching panties that had ribbons on each side. They had joked about Martin taking a ribbon in his teeth and pulling to remove the little black naughtiness. But Martin, enthralled with the piles of presents, had not noticed that Sami was lounging across their bed in sheer black ensemble that left little to the imagination. No Martin, was like a child at Christmas. He was busily unwrapping each present and commenting with exuberant exclamation the nature, use and value of each gift. By the time he had unwrapped the 100th’ gift and placed it in line with the other gifts in the room, now ordered by which room he thought they would enhance, Sami had fallen asleep. And thus the wedding day curled itself into a little ball of a wedding night, and the ending to what each of them really wanted and really got: lots of pictures to convey what they were not, and lots of gifts to ease the pain of what they were not. How the intent behind this wedding would grow itself into a marriage was beyond the possible. Sami and Martin had spent a tremendous amount of time talking about what kind of wedding they wanted and no time at all talking about what kind of marriage they would have.
Yet for a moment, before Sami drifted into a deep sleep, she had smiled at Martin eagerly opening the gifts and thought of the normal and happy life of acceptance that she would now live. Normal, once again was the great motivator and driving force, and as my energy hovered in the corner, I felt the calling to do that which I was not supposed to do, and that is intervene before this poor girl turned into her Mormon mother, washing legal or illegal drugs down her gullet with freshly squeezed orange juice!