These characters are from the sweat-beetled
brow of Craig Bartlett... lucky stiff.
Rated PG-13 cause I felt like it.
This morning, I am the first to arrive to lunch, and as such, set about making the table ready. It is the habit in our group to each bring a dish and share the bounty of our tastes in the luchroom, and today I've prepared my contribution with care. Checkered tablecloth and center piece in place, I begin laying out the portions of poached salmon, then ready the sauce. My friends begin to joyfully assemble and add to the table's bounty, but they are merely shadows; 'she' finally arrives.
Nadine is, as always, beautiful beyond all human reason. Graced and graceful, she glides to the table and settles herself in with the fluid motion of a exotic avian, plumes radiant in the soft light of the cafeteria.
"Good morning, Pea Pod Kid..." and she smiles the smile that fixes all.
Only she still calls me that and only she is given leave to do so. I return her smile and cast a quick glance across her gorgeous frame. Skin deep tanned and flawless, platinum blonde hair in a stylish pageboy, delicate slim figure and round inviting bosom. How this beautiful creature has haunted me! Why do I continue to torment myself with my proximity to her!
For a time, I endured lunch without her, but swallow-like, I'm compelled to return to her. I know it would be better if I were to relocate, but the thought of doing without even these small moments together is intolerable.
She catches my look and in an instant, through our eyes we've said everything to each other that can be said. Again she gives me that little shrug; 'I'm sorry'. What are you apologizing for Nadine? Your happiness with Brainy? The love you share that I couldn't hope to match? She is all too aware of my feelings, and I think feels the same helplessness as myself.
We went to Camp Snee-Oosh together as a bonding exercise. Our love, young and fresh, needed this time together from family and everyday life, and summer camp appealed to both our love of the outdoors. This was to be our time to grow together and explore each other, and admittedly, to add to Nadine's collection of insects. I too was there in that raft that day, Nadine at my side, and I will forever be haunted by her shriek as the raft tipped and she was flung from my grasp.
But as the fates would have it, I was one of the first pulled from the raging waters, and at the time counted myself lucky. Now the notion seems laughable. I would trade all to have been in Brainy's shoes those nights as they fought for survival, but the doubts consume me. Could I have held up as he did? Could I have been as strong, as determined to save the two of them? Afterwards, Nadine and I talked and hugged, so glad to be together again, but that fragile time was shortlived.
Slowly, she and Brainy drifted together, bound by that common nightmare. I watched helplessly as she grew farther from me. Tearfully, she apologized, the first time of many. She couldn't explain it, but then, she didn't need to. I could see the way in which they looked at each other, no longer the awkward youths of the camps first day, their souls had fused, now a gestalt of being. I still had place in her heart, just not the same place.
Brainy arrives at the table, and he and I enact a daily ritual. Eye to eye, we give each other a slight nod and unspoken thanks.
Thank you for bringing her back alive.
Thank you for being a gentleman about this.
When I saw the writing on the wall, I met with both of them and declared their union holy in my eyes; I would do nothing to interfere with their happiness. Tearful hugs from both, Nadine would later tell me how very much this meant to her. What could I say? My love for her was true. I can't even work up the strength to hate Brainy. Quiet, thoughtful, kind and generous, he is a worthy surrogate to my love for her, and the happiness he gives her is actually a slight comfort to my situation.
As the meal settled into it's comfortable groove, Helga stood to address the table. As we were all well aware, the Sadie Hawkins Dance was fast approaching and as it was considered 'oh so passe' for a young lady to simply ask her boyfriend to attend, the girls were set on shuffling the deck within their group. Without missing a beat, she spun about and leveled her gaze on Nadine's soul mate. Grinning like a shark, she cooed,"Brainy, would you be a dear and go to the Sadie Hawkins Dance with me? Please?"
Nothing could compare to the look of stark terror on his face, with the possible exception of the look on MY face when Nadine asked ME to attend. Me and... NADINE! Dancing, holding her, the scent of her in my arms... The room seemed to close in on me and with Olympian effort I managed to string several phonemes together into a weak affirmative. I think for the first time, Brainy TRULY understood me now that he was to be trapped for an evening with the one woman HE couldn't have.
Brothers in terror, we look to one another for support.
The dance cards filled quickly after that, Helga/Brainy, Tommy/Marianne, and so on, though the finest moment had to have been when all five members of Lila's wolf pack asked Thadius to attend with them as a group. Phoebe clapped with glee at the notion of El Curlito as the alpha male and got an odd little smirk on her face when Arnold accepted her invitation.
Lila, upon realizing that she couldn't simply ask Gerald to accompany her, simply stated that she wouldn't go, and could not be desuaded from this decision by a petulant Helga. Gerald, ever the gallant rogue, likewise said that his evening would be better spent with Lila in supper and cinema, and Lila's grin was the perfect end to the meal.
Through it all, I managed to maintain some semblance of my dignity (or so I'd like to believe) and took a moment to steal a quick look over to Nadine, who graced me with that beatific smile as she slid a plate of Yaketori skewers across the table to me, which this wicked temptress knew to be my favorite.
Dammit, you girls planned this all out before hand. Now I face an evening that I dared not dream of, and I'm not quite sure I'm up to. Dreamlike, she'll be mine again for a brief moment in time, and I think I'm quite prepared to accept that as victory conditions.
But Helga wasn't quite finished. "Now then, I'd like to believe that we're all tight and easy with each other, right? We all trust each other, so let's have a public show of hands; everyone's cool with this, right? No hard feelings or grumbling about the pairings?" All nodded and voiced acceptance of the plan, the wolf pack being especially up for this.
Helga just grinned at the show,"Excellent! Dress is party casual, but let's keep it looking sharp, and photos of both the group and couples will be taken, so dress accordingly. Each girl will expect one kiss at the evenings end, so stock up on Altoids guys..."
My throat almost seized shut.
Brainy and my eyes met again in another shared moment in Hell. What was the meaning of all this? What were the girls up to? Brainy was visibly trembling, or perhaps my own tremor only made him appear to.
Oh dear God, this is almost too much to bare. As they say, be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it... in spades!
I just hope Helga goes easy on poor Brainy, as I'm told they have some manner of history behind them...
To Be Continued...