A Week Late…

Posted: July 8, 2016 in Fiction, Flash Fiction Friday
Tags: ,

But, it’s Flash Fiction Friday! The last few weeks were hectic work-wise and I completely forgot about the FFF until last Friday when I was camping for the Fourth of July weekend. This month’s story was prompted by the mash-up of “Psycho” and “Sex and the City”, thus I give you “Unrequited”:

    “Do they always light the Empire State Building up like that?”

    Callie had just sat back down with a margarita in hand when Emily – staring up at the red-, white-, and blue-litten building that towered over them – asked the question. The eight of them were seated around a metal patio table at the rooftop bar of the El Decimo Hotel, the chatter of various other bar patrons surrounding the small party — all of whom wore pink cowgirl hats. Except for one.

    Leslie. The Bride-to-Be.

    She wore a paper crown with a large, erect penis and testicles on the brow.

    When Callie, the Maid of Honor, had first given it to her, the redhead had blush so deeply that her face had almost been redder than her hair. But, by that point in the evening, the bachelorette had acclimated to it – thanks in a large part to a more than healthy amount of alcohol.

    “Well, it’s always lit up,” Andrea replied, pausing to sip her own drink. “But they change it seasonally. You know, it’s July now, so it’s red, white, and blue. At Christmas, it’s red and green. Halloween, it’s orange and stuff.”

    “Oh. Cool.” Emily was one of Leslie’s friends from home in Philadelphia and had, somehow, never been in Manhattan before this. All day the young blonde woman had marvelled at stuff that Callie had grown used to in girlhood, having grown up in Queens. She’d actually found it kind of a adorable.

    Leslie flicked the edge of her margarita glass a couple of times with her nails, tried to stand, wobbled slightly, then sat back down in her chair. “Whoa,” she giggled drunkenly for a moment, before clearing her throat to be heard over the ambient noise of music, chatter, traffic. “First off, thank you to Callie, my wonderful Maid of Honor for putting all of this together.”

    The assembled women clapped and hooted appreciatively, causing Callie to blush slightly as she smiled modestly and gestured for Leslie to continue. “Okay, okay,” Leslie said. “All of you girls mean so much to me and I can’t imagine a better support team to have as mine and Drew’s big day draws near. Emily, I’ve known you since I was a little girl — you’ve been my best friend since before I can remember and you were there for me throughout the hell that was puberty.”

    A small, bittersweet smile seemed to cross the blonde woman’s face as Leslie continued. “Callie…,” she said before sighing with half a smile on her face. “You’ve been with me since my first semester at CUNY, my bestest roommate and partner in crime.” A wave of chuckles made it’s way around the table. “Andrea, Rebecca, Caitlin, all of you,” she said looking to the rest of the young women, “you’ve been my coworkers and friends since my first part-time job to pay for textbooks through to now at Roberts, Gilman, and Stein. You keep me sane.”

    There was more chuckling at that and a few whoops of agreement. As Leslie continued speaking on how much the individuals in her little party meant to her, Callie couldn’t help but notice a somber expression occasionally settling upon Emily’s face. She wanted to ask the blonde woman what was wrong, and though the alcohol in her system almost compelled her mouth to speak on its own, she held her tongue. Another half-hour passed before an alarm on Callie’s phone rang and she stood up, garnering the attentions of the rest of the party.

    “Alright, ladies, time to get to the room. The second act of this party is about to begin!”

    There were whoops and hollers of excitement as the eight women collected their things, crossed to the vestibule that held the elevator, and travelled down to the floor that held their hotel room. Callie had been able to get everyone other than Leslie to chip in for a night at the El Decimo, making the argument that individually it’d be cheaper than getting cabs, plus if they decided to venture through Times Square the hotel would be within reasonable walking distance. Once in the small suite with queen-sized bed, couch, and lounge chairs Leslie’s co-workers piled on the couch and bed as the bachelorette settled into one of the loungers with Emily perching herself on the chair’s arm. Callie turned the room’s TV onto a music station and crossed to the mini-fridge, from which she retrieved several bottles of liquor. On the coffee table in front of the couch was a large ice bucket in which was nestled a magnum bottle of champagne.

    “Oooo! Bubbly!” cooed Andrea from the bed. “When are we popping that open?”

    “Just as soon as–” Callie began to say before a knock came from the suite’s door. She smiled wolfishly to the other women. “Speak of the devil!”

    There were more calls of excitement as Callie moved toward the door, grinning at an increasingly red-faced Leslie and handing the bottle of champagne off to Emily. “Here, open this,” she said as a surprised expression crossed the blonde woman’s face.

    “Calle, what did you do…?” Leslie squeaked as her Maid of Honor glanced through the peephole and opened the door.

    “Evening, miss,” said one voice from the other side of the door.

    “Can we come in? We’ve received a bit of a…noise complaint,” continued a second voice.

    Callie could hear Leslie’s self-conscious groan just before the other women let loose another round of catcalls and wolf-whistles as two men in faux police uniforms, one of them carrying a small boom-box while the other carried a small duffle, entered the hotel room. Callie grabbed the TV’s remote and turned down the volume of the music as the two male strippers started up their own and began dancing, focusing their attention initially on Leslie. Callie knew that strippers weren’t exactly Leslie’s thing, but it was obvious that the other women were all for the display. Aside from Emily, that was. The blonde woman remained perched on the chair’s arm next to Leslie, the neck of the unopened bottle of champagne clutched in her hands while she watched the dancing men with a mildly perturbed expression on her face. Amused, Callie gently pulled the champagne from her hands and popped the cork, pouring a flute for the bride-to-be.

    Leslie, meanwhile, rolled her eyes and gave lip-service to this event held in her honor for the length of a song before waving the men off onto her friends and coworkers. Giving a bemused shake of her head, she accepted the glass from Callie. “You had to get strippers…?” Leslie asked with an arch of her dark red eyebrow.

    Callie shrugged. “I knew my audience…” The two looked toward the others who were clapping and enthusiastically encouraging the entertainers.

    Liquor flowed and the dancers danced. At some point, a can of whip-cream was produced from the duffle and some of the girls took turns licking the cream off of the strippers bare, smoothly waxed chest. Callie was giggling uproariously and clapping, feeling the increased warmth and buzz of champagne and rum flowing through her, as Rebecca gave one of the dancers a lap-dance as he sat on the bed while the other dancer gave her a lap-dance, when she glanced over to where Leslie and Emily stood in the corner. The two were engaged in what looked to be a serious discussion and Callie watched as Leslie touched the blonde woman’s upper arm gently, a sympathetic frown on her face. Emily turned brusquely and walked past the group of them toward the bathroom, snatching the champagne bottle from the coffee table as she went.

    Concerned, Callie walked over to Leslie. “What was that about…?”

    The bachelorette sighed ruefully. “I…” she glanced toward the others and gently pulled Callie closer to her. “Well…Emily told me when she first flew in that she’s in love with me, always has been. I let her down gently, but…” Leslie sighed and shook her head. “She was trying to get me to break things off with Drew. Insistent that he wasn’t good enough for me.”

    Callie’s eyes went huge. “What? Noooo…!” she gasped.

    Leslie nodded softly. “Yeah,” she replied, looking toward the closed bathroom door. “I guess she’s just drowning her sorrows for now. Which is understandable.” The bachelorette made an unhappy, sighing sound and shook her head. “I hope she’ll be okay.”

    “You hope she’ll be okay?” hissed Callie, not believing her friend. “She just tried to get you to break off your wedding!”

    Leslie shrugged. “I’ve been in a similar place before: the heart wants what it wants and won’t listen to reason. Besides, Emily is my oldest friend. It’s not like she slept with Drew or something. She was just voicing her feelings. If I can’t forgive that–”

    She broke off as the bathroom door opened and Emily emerged, sniffing slightly and wiping at her eyes with the heel of her free palm. Callie saw the blonde woman take a deep, fortifying breath before walking past the debauchery by the bed toward the two of them.

    “I’m…I’m so sorry about that, Leslie,” she said, her voice a little raw. “I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I drank more than I realized.”

    Leslie smiled somewhat sadly and nodded. “Don’t think anything of it, Em. For all I’m concerned, nothing happened at all.”

    Emily huffed out something that sounded like a brief chuckle, a thin smile finding its way onto her lips. “Champagne?” she asked, holding the bottle up and waggling it gently.

    Leslie’s smile turned more optimistic and she held out her flute. “Sure. Thank you!”

    Emily filled the glass half-way before looking to Callie. “You?”

    Callie shrugged and grabbed one of the flutes from the coffee table. “Why not?”

    After her glass was similarly filled half-way, Callie sipped at the sparkling wine alongside Leslie, watching Emily move to the other women and offer them refills. Some took theirs in glasses, though Andrea drank directly from the bottle before pouring the wine directly into the mouths of the two strippers.

    “Well, that was…less dramatic than I thought it would be,” Callie said, peering skeptically at her flute of champagne. There was a metallic aftertaste that she hadn’t noticed before.

    “Yeah, I’m glad of it, too,” Leslie replied softly before sipping from her glass. She wrinkled her nose some before swallowing. “Does champagne go bad?”

    Callie shrugged. “Maybe it’s just from it sitting out for awhile?”

    Leslie shrugged, too, before downing the rest of hers. “Oh well. Get me some vodka, would you?”

    Callie chuckled and finished off her champagne, making for the mini-fridge. “As you wish!”

    Leslie lightly smacked Callie on the upper arm, hissing playfully: “Not you, too!

    About fifteen minutes later, as the women played a game of “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” – which consisted of the women placing tail stickers, blindfolded, on the speedo-clad asses of the two strippers – Callie began noticing an uncontrollable tick in her neck and head, the muscles spasming randomly. She tried to ignore the sensation, but over the following minutes found her jaw clenching and face aching. She raised a hand to her temple, rubbing at the spot, but after a moment noticing that her fingers were twitching out of her control along with the muscles in her biceps and thighs beginning to spasm.

    “What the…?” she whispered, looking over toward where Leslie sat in her lounge chair, noticing the redheaded woman not looking too well, either. Immediately, Callie looked to Emily, who sat by herself on the edge of the bed, cradling a small, plastic cup of rum in her hands. The blonde woman’s eyes silently and patiently moved from the strippers and the other women most actively engaged in the game, to Leslie, and then finally to Callie.

    A small smile crossed her thin lips before her mouth was eclipsed by the plastic cup as she took a drink.

    “I’m feeling really…weird,” muttered Andrea, taking a step backward from one of the male strippers. She rubbed at her head.

    “Me, too,” piped up one of the dancers. Callie could see his neck and head twitching some. “You guys didn’t put anything special in the drinks, did you?”

    The other women shook their heads, Rebecca and Andrea sitting down gently on the coffee table. Callie wanted to speak up, her head feeling dizzy and aching as her gaze never wavered from Emily, but found the words dying in her throat as he body progressively began to convulse more and more. Leslie began shaking in her chair, the movements reminiscent of a seizure, eliciting a weak cry of surprise and fear from the other women. Andrea made to move toward the bachelorette, but her own arms and legs were shaking so strongly that she could barely move and inch from where she was seated.

    It was after one of the strippers wavered and collapsed to the ground, shuddering silently on the carpeted floor that Emily finished off her drink and stood.

    “Strychnine,” she said softly, walking toward the coffee table and slipping her now empty cup upside down over the opening of the champagne bottle.

    “W-why…?” Calle gasped, her voice raspy and thin as her entire body seized and shuddered painfully.

    Emily grabbed her clutch from the bureau where the room’s TV sat, before stepping over to Leslie. The redheaded woman’s eyes had rolled back in her head as she lay limply in the chair, her limbs shuddering and a rictus grin beginning to spread unbidden across her pale face.

    “Because if I can’t have you, Leslie,” the blonde woman said, leaning down to kiss the shuddering women on her mouth. The kiss finished, she pulled back and walked towards the suite’s door.

    “No one can.”

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