It was not often that Anthony showed his softer, gentler side in public. Being with Timothy though always helped him open up. They had been keeping their love life completely private. If they had been caught on a date, Ms. Li would have them both fired immediately. Tonight; however, was a special occasion. It was their one year anniversary. Although gay unions were not legal where they lived, Anthony was choosing that night to pop the question.
He sat with a slight smile as he remembered the day when he finally got Ms. Barch's steel hooks out of Mr. O'Neill. A bigger smile came over his face as he recalled how the break-up caused the notorious man-hater to swear off dating and leave Lawndale for good. Flashbacks of the past year flowed through his mind like a movie stuck on fast forward. The quiet dinners at home, the secret weekends out of state, the camping trips where one of the two would always "forget" the second sleeping bag all of those memories filled Anthony with a sense of true inner happiness.
Anthony tried to steady his nerves as he continued to gaze into Mr.O'Neill's soft and caring eyes. They ate in silence, both enjoying not only the food but the other's company. At the end of the meal, ordered dessert ... tiramisu, Mr.O'Neill's favorite. As they waited for it to arrive, decided to ask the question that had been racing through his mind all night. He reached out and gently took Mr. O'Neill's hand in his. The touch was electric and made more determined to carry out his plan. At long last, he decided to break the silence.
"Timothy, the past year has been the best I have ever lived. You have truly made me see that life is worth living. Timothy O'Neill ... will you marry me?The Question (Part 2)
Jane Lane was sitting on the couch of apartment in Boston. Her roommate and partner in crime had not woken up yet after a long night at work. Daria had gotten a job at Raft as a security guard. Daria's freshman year was over but Jane was attending classes during the summer to catch up. Jane had come home from an early class. She had checked their mailbox on the way back to the apartment. She saw a letter addressed to herself and Daria inside. Jane had just poured herself a cup of extra strong coffee. She was staring at the envelope. It had no return address on the outside. The post office stamp was from Lawndale. Jane tried to fight off her curiosity but it won. She got a knife from the kitchen and carefully slit open the envelope. Inside was what appeared to be a wedding invitation. Mack and Jodie probably decided to take the plunge. Jane took a long sip of coffee. As she read the inside of the invitation, she spewed out what coffee was in her mouth all over the coffee table and floor.
Jane shot up off the couch. Not bothering to clean up her mess, Jane ran to the shut bedroom door. She's going to kill me.. but she has to see this now. After banging on it for a minute, Jane tested the door to check if it was unlocked. It was. She winced as the door creaked open. She walked into the room where Daria was passed out in her work clothes. Jane knelt down and gently shook Daria. Daria turned and a look of anger instantly appeared on her face.
"This better be damn good Lane."
"It is...We just got an invitation this morning. I thought you might want to read it."
Daria glared at the card in Jane's hand. "You woke me up for a fucking card? When I get conscious, I am soo ramming one of my boots up your ass. What kind of an invitation. Don't tell me..Brittany is throwing a first year in college C-fest party."
"Nope... it's a wedding invitation."
Daria tried to grab it out of Jane's hand. She lifted it up and flashed held up her index finger as she ran out of the room. She returned, Polaroid in hand. This is going to be good. Jane handed the card to Daria.
Mr. Anthony DeMartino cordially invites you to witness the exchange of wedding vows between himself and Mr. Timothy O'Neill on Friday July 5th 2002 at the Vermont State Courthouse in Montpelier Vermont.
Daria saw the flash of the camera as her eyes enlarged and she began to experience a coughing fit.
Mr. DeMartino was having a hard time getting his tie straight. Jane stood up from the couch in her hotel room. Daria was in Mr. O'Neill's room helping him get ready by trying to stop him from passing out. Jane grabbed the tie and proceeded to fix it. She helped him adjust his collar. Jane gave him a quick look over.
"I think Mr. O'Neill will approve."
"MISS Lane.. I want to THANK you and Ms. MORGENDORFFER for coming here."
"It's a good thing you choose the one week that school was out for me. I wasn't able to start BFAC until January. So I am taking a bunch of classes right now to catch up. Umm.. did you invite any of your other students?"
"YES.. Ms. Landon, Mr. McKenzie and Mr. THOMPSON. They are going to meet us at the COURTHOUSE."
"You invited Kevin?"
nodded. "He really turned the corner last year. Staying back bothered him. So he spent all last summer with a tutor and actually tried to learn."
Daria was having a much harder time than Jane. But you were his favorite student Daria.. he'll listen to you. Yeah right. Mr. O'Neill was curled up in a ball on the bed. Daria was leaning against the room wall rubbing her temples. Finally in a moment of frustration, she kicked the bed.
"Come on Mr. O'Neill.. we have to be at the courthouse in less than two hours. Now get up and start getting ready."
"I don't think I can go with it Daria," Mr. O'Neill said through the sobs.
"Why not.. you love him right?"
"Yesyes I do."
"Then what's the problem. It's the next logical step in your relationship."
"I guess you're right. If Ms. Li finds out about this.. we'll lose our job. Anthony's only two years away from being able to retire."
"I'm sure Mr. DeMartino was well aware of the risks involved in asking you to marry him. Just keep in mind, gay marriage is not legal in Maryland. So think of this as Las Vegas.. what happens here stays here. Once is able to retire, you two can move up here and be happy."
"I never thought of it that way. You know you're right Daria. I better hurry up and get dressed. I don't want to keep Anthony waiting."
When Jane and Daria arrived at the hotel the night before, they were surprised to find out that their former teachers weren't sharing a room. In keeping with regular wedding tradition, the bride and groom were not allowed to see each other before the wedding. Jane tried to argue briefly with Daria over who was who in the relationship. It was quickly decided that Mr. O'Neill would be the bride at the ceremony. Jane and left for the courthouse ten minutes before Daria and Mr. O'Neill.
Jane and Mr. DeMartino arrived to see Jodie, Mack and Kevin waiting for them. Jane was surprised to see how much the others had changed over the past year. Mack was bald and was a little more built. He was a two sport star in college. He played both football and baseball. Jodie's hair was shorter. She had added a nose ring and was wearing an engagement ring. Kevin was no longer sporting the football jersey and pads. His hair was cut short he was wearing a very nice suit and tie. They caught up with each other as they waited for Daria and Mr. O'Neill to arrive.
The ceremony was supposed to start in thirty minutes. Mack and Kevin worked on getting Mr. DeMartino to stop pacing. Jodie and Jane watched the three guys and laughed. Jane looked at her watch. They must have gotten stuck in traffic. Fifteen minutes later, Jane heard her cell phone ring. She and Jodie stepped outside.
"We're pulling into the parking lot now. Is everyone there?"
Just then, Jodie began to tug on Jane's dress. Jane looked up as another familiar car pulled into the parking lot. The color drained from Jane's face. Jodie flashed her a what the hell look.
"Ohhhhhhh shit. This is bad very, very bad."
"What is it Jane? What's wrong?"
"Barch just pulled up."
"Barch! What the hell is SHE doing here?" Daria almost wrecked as she slammed on the breaks.
"I'm serious.. she just pulled into the front parking lot. Daria.. where are you at?" Jane motioned to Jodie to go back inside. Jodie shot through the courthouse door.
"Right now, we are in the left side parking lot. Are you sure it's Barch?"
"Yeahthe car had a 'Take Back Night Lawndale High School Women's Self Defense Club' bumper sticker on the back of it."
"Damnit!" Daria hit her hand against the steering wheel. She found a parking spot and quickly turned into it. She looked over at Mr. O'Neill," We need to get you into that courthouse and fast!"
Daria bolted out of the driver's seat and threw open the passenger door. She yanked Mr.O'Neill out of the car and pushed him towards the courthouse. She looked down at her watch. Okay.. we still have ten minutes. Daria stared at the courthouse entrance. She saw Jane talking Jodie. Jodie nudged Jane and pointed in Daria's direction. Jane motioned at her watch and shot Daria and Mr. O'Neill a hurry your asses up look. They began to run up the courthouse stairs. Jodie grabbed Mr. O'Neill's arm and dragged him into the courthouse.
"Have you seen Ms. Barch yet?"
"She's circled the parking lot a few times. She stared at me a couple of times. I can't tell if she recognized me or not," Jane groaned as she saw Ms. Barch approaching. "I guess she did."
"Great," Daria mumbled.
Ms. Barch walked up to the two women. She appeared to have a genuine smile on her face. Daria didn't know what to expect. I knew I should have picked up a couple of bulletproof vests at the Army surplus store last week. Jane could watch Daria tense up.
"Ms. Lane and Ms. Morgendorffer...how nice to see you. Let me be the first to congratulate you."
A look of confusion fell over Daria and Jane's faces. Before they could respond, Jodie opened the courthouse door. Jodie saw Ms. Barch and froze.
"Hurry up you two.. the ceremony starts in five minutes."
The Question (Part 6)
Daria signaled to Jane to go inside. Jane hesitated at first, but relented to Daria's stare. I better not come back out here and find my amiga dead Ms. Barch or it will take them years to finish scraping you off the sidewalk. Jane walked into the courthouse. Daria sized up Ms. Barch. They stood silently for a moment.
"Come on Daria... I don't want you to be late for your own wedding."
"Jane and I aren't the ones here to get married."
"Don't try to fool me Daria.. when I was online and saw that an anonymous couple from Lawndale had applied for a marriage license, I knew it was you and Jane."
"I'm sorry to disappoint you.. we are only here to support a couple of friends. Besides, if that was the case, it would have been an anonymous couple from Boston. We haven't lived in Lawndale since we graduated."
"You said you were here to support a some friends. Were they former students of mine? I could have sworn I saw Jodie talking to Jane earlier."
"That was Jodie. Mack and Kevin are here as well," Daria replied. Daria reached into her jacket pocket. Damnit, I have their rings. I can't believe I'm about to do this. "Ms. Barch, I need to get inside. I'm sure I've missed the beginning of the ceremony, but I have the rings."
"Do you think the happy couple would mind if I joined you?" Ms. Barch asked.
Daria didn't answer. Daria walked towards the courthouse entrance with Ms. Barch right behind her.
Daria and Ms. Barch walked down the main hall. Mack ran up to them. He paused briefly when he saw the former bane of his existence. Daria and Ms. Barch followed him back to a room that said "CIVIL UNIONS" on the door. Mack opened it to allow Daria and Ms. Barch to enter. Ms. Barch froze in place as she saw the scene before her. Jane was standing beside Mr. DeMartino while Mack stood beside Mr. O'Neill. A look of intense fear came over the two men's faces. Daria ran to the where the four of them were standing. remained in a catatonic state.
"Is it time for the rings yet?" Daria asked.
"Yes.. I take it you have them," the judge replied.
Daria pulled them out of her pocket. "Yes, Your Honor."
"Good...let's commence with the vows."
The ceremony continued. Ms. Barch was still unmoving. Her eyes didn't even seem to blink. Jodie and Kevin kept switching back and forth between keeping an eye on Ms. Barch and watching the union. A few minutes later, the judge closed the ceremony.
"By the power invested in me by the state of Vermont, I know pronounce you man and man...you may now kiss your husband."
Daria, Jane and the others let out a sigh of relief. They stood back so that Jane could take a picture of that special scene. Her camera flashed. Ms. Barch shook her head for a moment and blinked.
It was that moment, when Mr. DeMartino's lips meet Mr. O'Neill's that broke Ms. Barch from her hazed stupor. As she watched the deeply romantic liplock, she realized what had just occurred. She tried to steady herself.
"Skinny?" was the only thing she said before she passed out cold.
The Aftermath (Conclusion to The Question)
The entire group was gathered around Ms. Barch. The judge had called for security. Daria knelt down beside her former teacher. Daria lifted the older woman's head and began to smack her face. I've lived a good life.. well I lived a life anyway. After several hits to the cheek, Ms. Barch started to come to. Jodie and Jane helped Ms. Barch up and sat her on one of the trail benches. She still looked severely dazed and confused.
"Are you okay Ms. Barch?" Jodie asked as the security guard came in and was quickly waved off.
"I had the weirdest dream. I came here for Daria and Jane's wedding. It turned out to be Anthony and Timothy's instead," Ms. Barch went into an almost maniacal laugh.
"Janet...it wasn't a dream. Anthony and I did get married." Mr.O'Neill-DeMartino showed off the band on his ring finger.
Ms. Barch stared at the rest of the group. They nodded. Ms. Barch rubbed her temples. She stood up, turned around and walked out of the room. She remained silent. The rest of them followed her and watched as she left the courthouse, got in her car and drove off. The others didn't hear from her until years later.
Five years later... Las Vegas
Daria, Jane, Jodie, Kevin and Mack became good friends with their former teachers. Every so often they would begin to wonder what happened to Ms. Barch. Daria, Jane, Anthony and Timothy stood outside the brightly lit chapel and watched for the soon to be married couple to arrive. Jodie arrived first with Mack in tow. They waited patiently for the groom to appear. A few minutes later, Kevin arrived. He put his arms around Jodie and gave her a quick kiss before heading inside the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel. As they filled out the necessary paperwork, the chaplain passed them. Jane gave a double take before tapping Daria on the shoulder. All they could see was the back of the woman. After Kevin and Jodie paid, they waited for their turn. Everyone was stunned when they entered the tiny chapel and saw Ms. Barch wearing a minister's robe.