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     “The Reception”
 
They had been
best friends since
grade school
the seating charts
in the class rooms
were all alphabetical
at their school
so Alan and Brooke
always sat next
to each other
now in their
twenties
they still find
themselves
sitting together,
lots of the people
in their circle
of friends
were getting married
so they often
went to these
events together
Brooke could easily
get a date
if she wanted
Brooke could easily
get most anything
she wanted
and Alan
well he was
funny
he had that
going for him,
today was a
wedding
reception for a
friend
but not a really
close friend
but here they
were
all the same
Alan watched Brooke
as she flowed
through the people
with her own
style of grace
she always made
such a smooth
entrance
to these things
as he clunked
around the room
bumping into
tables
knocking over
chairs
while she just
swam
into the crowd
of people
pausing
every now and
then
to square up
a smile
or to inject
a little life
in to a slow
moving
conversation,
as he stood
staring at the
chocolate fountain
at the end
of the dessert
table
unable to decide
what he wanted
to stick under
its rich waterfall
of flavor
he had seen
a couple of
people
stick pieces of
cauliflower
and other assorted
vegetables
through the mocha
colored waves
causing him to
shutter
in disgust
is there not
some law of
buffet etiquette
against such a
foolish waste
of liquid pleasure,
he looks across
the cheese platter
which is neatly
divided up
into sections
all with color
coded tooth picks
holding down
chucks of cheese  
none of which
he could pronounce
that your suppose
to match
with a deli meat
harpooned to a
cracker
with the
corresponding
colored plastic
swords,
he takes another
glance
in her direction
he can see
her
holding court
over five
teenage girls
all wide eyed
and leaning forward
towards her
dying to hear
the next word
that drops from
her lips
he wonders what
kind of privy
information
she is dishing
out
to the girls
that has all
five
in a state of
suspended
animation,
he decides to
go against
the grain
sticks the cheese
with the red
tooth picks
on to meats
with blue and
green swords
and fills a
champagne glass
full of liquid
chocolate
so he can
dip things
into it at his
leisure,
he finds table
number seventeen
spreads out his
bounty
and passively
listens
to the surrounding
conversations
going on around
him
hoping for a
little
casual entertainment
in one of them
to help pull
him through
the next few
hours
of a brutally
boring reception
complete with a
never ending
80’s sound track
which he is
hoping to
understand
one day
why
so many people
who never lived
during the 80’s
exclusively played
nothing but
at their wedding
receptions,
he makes
quick work
of his plate
of mismatched
foods
somewhat
disappointed
no one called
him out
on his buffet
choices
he looks over
at the open
bar
already warned
earlier by Brooke
not to make
a fool of
himself
like at his last
friend’s wedding
and continuing his
streak of five
receptions in
a row
in which he
turned into
the drunken
court jester
though there is
something to be
said about tradition,
he makes his
way
towards the
bar
going by Brooke
and the teenage
girls
on the way
as they are
all closely
huddled together
now
pointing
and giggling
at some of
the young men
across the room
she’s no doubt
giving them lessons
in flirting
if they only
pick up a
small fraction
of her flirting
skills
they’ll be leaving
a trail of
broken hearts
in their wake
before they are
old enough
to drive,
he catches her
eye
and nods towards
the bar
she mouths
the word
“Tequila”
then she over
exaggerates
her head turn
towards the girls
and strikes a
sexy pose
all the girls
start laughing
and then imitate  
her
each freezing in
a sexy pose
of their own,
he stands next
to an almost
empty
open bar
and orders one
beer
and two shots
of tequila
the bartender
a young
hoping to be
noticed
out of work
aspiring actor
gets him his
drink
making the kind
of moves
while doing so
that has him
looking
more like someone
playing a bartender
then actually
being one,
an all too common
occurrence for the
catering business
where the dreams
of young actors
go to die
a slow
painless death,
they never even
feel
their life being
sucked out of
their soul
till one day
someone eats
the last crab
cake
off the silver
serving tray
they are holding
and they see
a 40-something
face
with no future
looking back
at them
wondering what
happened
to the young
vibrant person
whose life was
full of possibilities
just a few pages
ago
in the script,
now having to
eat the night’s
leftovers
just to get by
from week to
week,
the bartender
leans in
as he sets down
the drinks
and in a low voice
he asks him
if he knows of
anyone here
that is in the
business
a common question
at these types
of events
when their held
within 40-miles
of Hollywood
he leans towards
the bartender
and whispers
“see that twenty
something over there
with that group
of young girls”
the bartender nods
“she is the niece
of a very well
known director
but she hates it
when people find
that out”
Alan
already thinking
of how he can
use this con
later on
if needed,
he picks up
both shots
of tequila
with his left
hand
and the beer
with his right
then pauses as he
takes a scan
of the room
there looks
to be
a lot of single
women here
from the bride’s
side of the
family
meaning they have
never met him
before 
a big plus for
him
Brooke was right
he didn’t need
any help
finding his way
to the wrong
side of sober
but he is willing
to argue
the point
that he does
some of his best
work while drunk
then again
he will argue
most anything when
he’s drunk,
he sets the drinks
back down
takes the first shot
of tequila
and chases it with
the beer
then takes the second
shot of tequila
and finishes off
the beer
then hollers out to
the bartender to
circle the wagons
again for him,
he picks up the
drinks again
and heads towards
Brooke and that
table of intimating
teen girls
two shots and
a beer
and their still
making him feel
insecure
about his
masculinity
he hears one
of the young
teen girls
tell Brooke in a
mocking voice
“This can’t be
your boyfriend
Brooke
he must be
your ugly brother
is he your
ugly brother
Brooke?”
all the girls snicker
at that remark
Brooke has to
work hard to
suppress her own
laugh,
he looks at
the girls
as he sets
Brooke’s
tequila shot down
on the table
in front of
her
as he fires
off a salvo
of his own
comments
at the teens
“I didn’t know
the entertainment
tonight
was midget
wrestling
which of you
boys
is the reigning
champ?”
he watches
as all the
girls faces 
drop their smiles
at the same
time
“Now,
now play nice”
Brooke says
“how many of
those shots
have you already
had Alan
please don’t forget
the clown incident
at the Blake’s party
last week”
Brooke half
laughing at him
and half
chastising him 
“I’ve only had
one shot
all night”
a little lie
that they both
knew
he was telling
“and that clown
incident
well
he had it coming
you should never
point a gun
at someone”
“that may be
true
but the gun
was made
out of balloons”
says Brooke
and then adds
“but still,
why are you
picking fights
with all these
junior Hotties
over here”
that comment
brings a
smile back
to all the
girl’s faces again
“besides” says Brooke
“one of these
girls here
might just have
a Hot single
mom
that is real
desperate
and maybe they
will help you
out
with your game”
the words Hot
and desperate
having caught
Alan’s attention
Brooke looks over the
gaggle of girls
sitting before her
“how many of you
have Hot single moms
raise your hands”
three girls raise their hands
“Ok good,
now how many
have desperate
moms
that might think
a guy like Alan
is kinda of cute?”
all three girls
lower their
hands,
and another girl
raises her hand
meekly,
Alan
liking the odds
says
“I am so very,
very
sorry girls
please accept my
apologies,
ok
so with that
out of the way
do you three girls
with the Hot moms
think you can
help
an ugly brother
out
and if nothing
seems to be
working out
I’ll fall back on
plan B
and you introduce
me
to your mom”
pointing to the
girl
still holding her
hand up
with the desperate
mom
she just shrugs
and says “sure”
plus as an added
bonus
to that fore
mentioned apology
I will give you
ladies
some inside
information
about high school
guys
that will make
them
like you
no matter what,
the girls all
nodding yes
to each other
and smiling at
the thought of
some inside
information
as the one
girl
with the desperate
mom
who just had
her hand up
raises it again,
Alan looks over
at her
and points to
her
“Yes,
you have a
question?”
“are you going
to tell us
we can be
popular
with the boys,
if we are
easy,
you know
give it up?”
she says
with a
“matter of fact”
look on her
face,
stunned at her
straight forwardness
Alan says
“have you been
to one of my
seminars before?”
all of the other
girls
now with a
look
of disgust
on their faces
as Brooke
jumps in and
takes over,
“he’s only kidding
girls,
you don’t have
to put out
to be popular”
Brooke smiling
at the girls
as Alan sits
down
he looks over
the girls
talking among
themselves
as Brooke
makes a face
while taking her
tequila shot
he knows it
won’t be long
before each one
of these
“Jr Hotties”
will be commanding
all the attention
in the room
when they
walk in
and he might
just be
out front
parking their
cars,
he took his
shot
and drank his
beer
as Brooke talked
to him
she always made
time for him
trying to include
him
in whatever
she
was doing,
knowing she
most often drew
the bulk of the
attention
when they went
places
not that he
needed
the company
or the inclusion
he is use to
being on his
own
swimming with
sharks
with just his
wits
to get by on,
he could see
the young teen
girls
getting impatient
with him
wanting Brooke
back
all to themselves
no “Ugly brother”
hanging around
so they can
steer
their conversation
with her
back towards boys,
the constant stare
he is getting
from them
is starting to
freak him out
they have this
“Children of the corn”
look going on
so he decided
not to challenge
this crowd
and headed back
to his favorite
type of bar
an open one,
he remembers
sitting at the
bar
as his eyes
now
are trying to
focus
on an unfamiliar
bedroom wall
he was ordering
tequila shots
one right after
another
the bartender
droning on about
all his little
parts
and appearances
from junior high
to the theater
in the valley
where he is
currently
showing at
which he just
so happens to
have a play bill
of
in his back
pocket,
but after taking
his next four shots
he starts to take
an interest in
the actor
bonding with him
but then again
he would bond
with a German
shepherd
if the dog
just sat there
and listened to
him
as he drank
maybe give him
a bark or two
when he makes
some of his
stronger comments,
it was some
time
during the actor’s
reenactments
of famous movies
that everything
starts to get
fuzzy
he remembers
watching Brooke
block out
one of the
bridesmaids
as if she was
trying to draw
a foul
when the bouquet
was thrown
so her Hotties
would have a
better chance
at catching it
and he was still
at the bar
when he saw
Brooke
talking to the
three girls with
Hot single moms
shortly after which
each girl
came over to
him
dragging their
mothers
behind them
who then
introduced
them to him
he can still
see
that exact same
look
of disappointment
that swept over
the faces of
their mothers
then each one
staring down at
their daughters
as if saying
What the F--k
were you thinking,
he couldn’t be
sure
but he’s willing
to bet
that was the
tipping point
when he let go
of the weak grasp
he held on
decorum
the beginning of
his freefall
into the irrational
thoughts
that unending
tequila shots
and chocolate
covered chunks
of cheese
bring on,
it was out on
the dance floor
when he snapped
Brooke trying to
cheer him up
with a little
personal attention
dancing a couple
of 80’s hits with
him
and it was
working
she was just
beginning to see
that big goofy
smile of his
stretch across his
face
when both Alan
and the clown
from the Blake
party incidence
saw each other
at the same
time
Alan was in
mid spin
on the dance
floor
when he saw
the bright colors
of the clown
at the far end
of the large hall
the clown was
putting a balloon
shaped like a
crown
on the head of
a little boy
when the clown
looked up
and locked eyes
with Alan
Brooke saw trouble
right off the bat
and tried to get
in front of Alan
but she couldn’t
and the clown
had to brush
away
a few little kids
that were hanging
on to his legs
before he
started towards
Alan
but at this point
fate couldn’t be
stopped
as each one
marched
towards the other
meeting in front
of the buffet
table
they both stood
there
staring into the
eyes of the
other
as the dancing
stopped
and whispers of
their past
altercations
made their way
through the room
like a wave
through the crowd
of people,
some say Alan
swung first
others swear it
was the clown
but both sides
agree
Alan was the first
to connect with
a punch
hitting the clown
square in the nose
sending a loud
elongated “SQUEEK”
the whole length
of the room
the clown staggered
back
and reached into
his bright red
jacket pocket
and as Alan
was throwing his
follow-up swing
the clown pulled
out
a handful of
glitter
from his pocket
and threw it in
Alan’s eyes
blinding him
allowing the clown
to launch a
flurry
of real solid
body punches
Alan was still
standing
and had just
regained his sight
when the clown
bull rushed him
side stepping the
clown
and getting him
in a headlock
forcing the clown
to bend backwards
holding his head
under the chocolate
fountain face up
waterboarding him
with the steady
stream of liquid
chocolate
the clown
desperate now
reaching around
on the table
with his free
hand
grabs a handful
of cheese chunks
with little blue
plastic swords
in them
and slams them
into Alan’s right
cheek
Alan lets out
a high pitched
girlish scream
as the clown
breaks free,
there was an
uneasy
dead silence
between the two
combatants
neither one
hearing the
little kids crying
on the clown’s
side of the room
or the 80’s music
still blaring from
Alan’s side of
the room
"The Final Countdown"
by Europe
starts to play
as each opponent
charges towards
the other
hoping to be
the one who
walks away
the victor
from this improv
death match,
Alan still laying
in a strange bed
staring at a
bedroom wall
that he has
no idea
who it
belongs too
it’s not Brooke’s
place
he would turn
his head
and look around
if he could
but keeping his
eyes open
and focused
is all his
faculties
can manage
at this time
his vision
goes blurry
he closes his
eyes
and a pond
opening them
he sees one
of the junior
Hotties
standing in front
of him
in her pajamas
she says nothing
as she stares
at him
till he finally
asks
“where am I?”
“your in my mom’s
bedroom”
she says
“and who are
you?”
he asks
not really sure
he wants to
know the answer
“don’t you
remember
I was one of
the girls sitting
with Brooke
at the reception
I raised my
hand
when you asked
about our moms”
“now I remember”
says Alan
“you were one of
the three girls
that raised their
hands
when I asked
who had a Hot
single mom”
“No,
I was the one
who raised her
hand
when you asked
who had a
desperate mom”
she replies
Alan sunk deeper
into the bed
then asks the
young teen
“did I at
least win
the fight with
the clown?”
she looks at
him
for a moment
then says
“well I got some
good news
and some bad
news”
he pulls the
pillow
over his face
trying to shield
himself
from her reply
to his question
“No,
you didn’t win
the fight with
the clown
in fact
it was my
mom
that pulled the
clown off of
you
and put him
in a sleeper
hold
knocking him
out
and giving her
enough time
to drag you
out of there”
she tells him
with a look
of pride
for her mom
on her face
“and the good
news”
Alan asks
“I think my
mom
likes you”
she says
Alan doesn’t
move
for a minute
then pulls the
pillow
off of his
face
to see the
girl
still standing
there
so he asks
“what does your
mom
look like?”
she takes two
steps to her
right
and grabs a
picture
of her and
her mom
off of a night
stand
just outside of
his unchanging
view
and shows it
to him
he stares at
the picture
before saying
“why couldn’t
have
the clown just
killed me”
she takes no
notice of that
remark
and says
“Get Up,
my mom’s making
breakfast”
then turns around
to leave
but after a
couple of beats
sticks her head
back into the
doorway
and says
“Oh,
and if this
thing
between you
and
my mom
starts to work
out
don’t start thinking
I’m going to
call you dad”
Alan,
not knowing
what
else to do
throws back the
sheets
and pulls on
his pants
and heads down
stairs
to breakfast…
 
     Tomallen…08-11-2018…