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Old 09-19-2005, 01:10 PM   #1
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A Story Without Me 12

A Story Without Me 12: A Question and A Ring.

Another two-for-one day. It's a big, big day, I've been in a prolific mood. And I'm still way behind on my posting and e-mailing. There is no fiction that will fit that situation.

The Disclaimer and Author's Notes You All Love. Or You At Least Tolerate: This is fiction, with a character based on a famous rock star/social-political activist. In this alternate universe, our male characters have never been married before. No extended scene this time. See you soon at the United Center! As the Blues Brothers would say if they were in my car as I leave for Tuesday's and Wednesday's shows: It's four and a half hours to Chicago, we have most of a tank of gas, no cigarettes, it's light out, you packed your laptop, digital camera, cell phone. And tickets. And Bono's wearing sunglasses. Hit it

You went to downtown Royal Oak Saturday night. As you walked to the movie theater, you met a couple walking their daughter in their stoller, down crowded Main Street in the warm summer night. And when you lined up in Cold Stone Creamery for ice cream cones, the man behind you had a little red-haired baby boy in a backpack. B talked and cooed to the baby, found out his name was Austin, and he just turned three months old.

"Little Austin was so cute. See, we can still go out on Saturday night, even with a baby!" B tells you as Austin and his father walk away and the clerk mixes your blended ice cream.

"So you like babies, B? I never would have guessed that about you."

"Babies are fascinating. Whenever I see one, I always wonder what's going on in his or her little mind."

"Especially when he's crying, right?"

"I sat next to a crying baby when I flew to America this spring. I just wondered when the poor child would be quiet. So did her poor mother and father. They tried everything they could while people stared at them. Feeding her, rocking her, singing to her. Funny thing, though. After her mother started crying out of frustration, the baby stopped crying."

"That may be worth remembering. B, how do you see yourself with our baby?"

"Oh, J. It's still hard to believe we're really going to have a baby. But it's exciting to think about being a father."

"And what's going on in your mind when you think about being a father?"

"I'm holding the baby, talking and singing to him. Reading bedtime stories. Giving him little baths. Playing peek-a-boo. Putting him to bed. And feeding the baby -- unless you're planning on taking care of that?"

"Maybe. There will be plenty of other things for us to do, though. It sounds like you've figured that out already. As you've said, we'll go out for walks together. And you could watch sports together; it'll be baseball season when he's born. Don't forget changing diapers. It's going to be a dirty job, but we'll have to do it."

"I can't get out of changing diapers, can I? No?"

"If I can't, you can't. Sorry." You look at the time in the window of your new silver flip cell phone. 7:15. "B, the movie's about to start. Let's go get our tickets."

You walk to the movie hand-in-hand, B still excitedly talking about the new baby. "You said you wanted boy's names beginning with B? There's Brendan, Brian, Bronson, Benjamin, Brent ... Bob, after my father, and after Bob Dylan! Speaking of rock stars, here's one B name I know you love: Bruuuuce!" B chants the name so it sounds like a boo, but it's really a Springsteen fan's praise. You laugh.

"You know how much I love Bruce Springsteen. I know you love him too. But I'd never name our son after him."

*****
Sunday morning, 7 a.m. You wake up. You're terribly sick to your stomach.

"Good morning, love," B says.

"No, it's not," you mutter as you clasp your hands over your mouth and run to your bathroom.

You make it to your toilet and remove your hands just in time. But what did you feel and see on your left hand?

You get up, turn your left hand over, and look. There's a ring on the third finger of your left hand. A diamond. On a ring of gold.

Oh my God. Oh. My. God. When did B put that there?

You walk into the hallway and start yelling for your boyfriend. Who now wants to be your fiance.

"B! B! Where are you?"

He walks up to you and hugs you.

"Ah, there you are! Maybe that wasn't the best way to surprise a woman with morning sickness. I'm sorry, love. Do you feel better now? Didn't I say it was a good morning, love? Will you marry me?"

"Yes, I feel better. Yes, it's a good morning. And yes, B, I'll marry you. If you'll marry me."


*****
You went to the mall after church with B. You met the minister after the service to ask about wedding arrangments and premarital counseling. He made an appointment to see you on Wednesday night. No sign of Joan at church. She did mention possibly going out of town for the holiday weekend.

At the mall, you pretended you were going to the maternity store "to, you know, buy things I need," you tell your new fiance. You really went to Marshall Fields to buy B a nice watch for an engagement present. Then you took the watch to the engraving store to have the watch back enscribed while you looked at their gifts for wedding attendants. This made you hungry -- everything makes you hungry -- so you went to the ice cream and yogurt stand for a healthy snack.

You take your frozen yogurt and fruit to a bench in the middle of the mall and sit down to wait for B.

You see Chris. Funny, you thought he'd gone out of town this weekend. Guess not. He comes over, says hello.

"Hey, what are you doing at the mall? I thought you were out of town?"

"No. I'm going to spend my day with a beautiful blonde. My niece's 10th birthday party starts at three. I just bought her a Michigan State shirt and hat at Steve and Barry's for her present. Gotta start early and keep at it." Chris is the proudest Spartan alumnus and biggest college football fan you've ever seen. There are few things he'd love better than to see his nieces go to Michigan State University.

"I thought you and B went out of town?"

"Our plans changed, so we're here. I last saw him heading towards Borders. My fia- my boyfriend, the book lover."

"He ought to love books, he's dating a librarian. I saw both of you at the Main Theater last night. You were at the box office last night when I was leaving the matinee."

"You should have said hello! What did you see? We saw 'Broken Flowers.' "

" 'The Aristocrats.' A one-joke movie, and it's a filthy joke. I thought it was very funny."

"You would, Chris." It's an interesting premise, a movie about how comedians love to tell each other this dirty joke and how they tell it. However, you don't think you want to hear a dirty joke told over and over and over, so you haven't seen it.

"What did you think of 'Broken Flowers'?"

"Bill Murray was as good as he was in 'Lost in Translation.' You'd like it ..." As you talk, you put your yogurt down on the bench your left hand. Chris looks stunned. Uh-oh. He must have seen your new ring.

"Jo, are you wearing an engagement ring?"

"Uh, yeah. B just asked me to marry him. You're one of the first people to know."

"You're not, uh, pregnant, or anything, are you?" Chris laughs.

"Uh, yeah, I am," you nervously tell him. "Pregnant. And everything. You're one of the only people who knows that, too. Please don't spread it around yet, okay? I still haven't told my stepmother. And now I -- we -- have two big pieces of news to tell my -- our -- family and friends." Chris won't tell, he's not the gossipy type.

"Congratulations. You know how much I love babies."

"And I know babies love you, Chris. Yes, you're going to be 'Uncle Chris' at the end of April." Chris will love it. He loves being around his nieces and nephews. He even loves seeing babies in public. He'd probably beg you and B to babysit. Peg also babysits for your friends with older children. Hmmm ...

"Say, Jo, have you thought about your child's education? Michigan State is a great school."

"Chris, I knew you'd say that the moment I told you I was having a baby. You know how much I liked earning my masters at Wayne State, though," you tease him. "And B went to school in Dublin and London. Say, Chris, have you ever babysat your nieces and nephews?"

"A few times." Chris checks his watch. "It's 2:45 already. I still have to buy a birthday card for my niece. See you, Jo. Say hi to B the father-to-be for me."

"See you, Chris."

You finish your yogurt. Your phone rings. It's B, asking if you've finished shopping, and if you're ready to go.

"I'm in the middle of the mall waiting for you, honeybee ... Oh, there you are!" He's standing next to you, phone at ear. "So did you buy anything, B?"

"A few new CD's, a book on fatherhood." He holds up his Borders bag. He sees your green department store shopping bag "Did you find the things you needed?"

"Found just what I was looking for, at Hudson's -- I mean, Marshall Fields. It'll always be Hudson's to me, though. Ready to go home?"

*****

B drives you home.

"Honeybee, I think I need a nap," you tell him after you walk into the house.

"Meet me in the back yard after you wake up," he tells you. You hear doors open and close in the kitchen, then hear the back door open and close. What is he up to this time? The man is full of surprises today. Okay, you'll play along. And you're a little too tired to investigate right now anyway.

You take a short nap. You walk to the back yard. B's sitting at your patio set.

"May I pour you a glass of bubbly to celebrate?" There's a green bottle and two champagne flutes on the table.

"B, you know I can't drink champagne now."

"This is sparkling white grape juice, my love. I bought it yesterday so we could toast the baby. Now, we have more to celebrate."

"Well, then. By all means, please, go right ahead."

B uncorks the bottle with a pleasant pop. He pours two glasses. "A toast, my lady. To my lover, the mother of my child, who is now my fiancee. I love you."

"And to my lover, the father of my child, and my new fiance. I love you."

"To a long, joyous, and interesting life together. God bless you, J."

"God blessed me when I met you, B. Here's to a long, joyous, and interesting life together. God bless you, B."

You clink your glasses together -- finally -- and drink. Even though it's not alcoholic, you feel giddy as you finish your drink.

"B, this is for you. You gave me a ring today. I wanted to give you something in return. Here," you say as you give him the watch box. He opens it, smiles as he sees the gold watch. "Turn it over, read the back."

" 'Yes, my honeybee.' Oh, J. Thank you." He slips the watch on his wrist, kisses you.

"B, now that we've gone and done this, we have to tell my stepmother. I don't know much about wedding etiquette, but I think that as my parent, she has to be the first to be told of our engagement."

"That's not all we need to tell her."

"Yeah, that's for sure. You may even need to ask for her blessing. God knows we're gonna need all the good wishes we can get. Let me get my phone. She did tell me she and her sister were thinking of going to Seattle this weekend."

"What's in Seattle?"

"Starbucks, the Space Needle, Microsoft? I don't know why she's there. Whenever my stepmother wants to travel, I think she just throws a dart at a map and then uses her airline pass from Sue to go there. Her sister is retired and divorced, too, so she can take off and travel with her."

You get your cordless phone and speed dial her cell phone. "Hello, this is Joan's cell phone," the voice tells you. You wait for the beep.

"Hi, Joan, it's Jo. B's here at my house. We didn't go to Mackinac this weekend after all. Say hi to Joan, B." You put the phone to his mouth and ear.

"Hi to Joan, B!" B chirps. You make a cut-it-out-B gesture across your neck, take the cordless phone from him.

"Oh, cut it out, you silly B! Pay no mind to my goofy fi -- uh, my goofy boyfriend. I think you know how he can be. If you don't, you'll learn. Anyway, Joan, we have news we really want to share with you! It's Sunday afternoon about 4. You mentioned going to Seattle this weekend. Call my house or my cell phone when you get this, okay? Goodbye. Say goodbye to Joan, B." You put the phone back to B's ear and mouth.

"Goodbye to Joan, B! Oh! J wanted me to say a real goodbye to you! Goodbye, Joan. Enjoy Seattle, if you're there. Please call us when you hear this. God bless you," He presses the talk button to end the call. "Now, should we call your brother? Or Aunt Jo? I want to tell Dave and Emily as soon as I can. You'll want to tell Chris and the rest of your friends, and your coworkers."

"Chis already knows. I just saw him at the mall. He saw the ring. He guessed I was pregnant, too. He took it pretty well, at least the baby news. I've never seen a man who loves being around kids so much, B. He'll be thrilled to be Uncle Chris. Don't be surprised if we get a little Michigan State University shirt as our baby present from him."

"Our universities must also sell baby clothes, right, love? Should we wait until Joan knows to tell the rest of our family and friends about our engagement?"

"Call Dave."

B starts dialing his cell phone as soon as the words leave your mouth. "Hello, Dave? Guess what J and I did today? Yes, I asked her. Why, thanks, mate. You're one of the first to know. Her stepmother's out of town; we left a message for her and we're waiting for her to call us. No, we haven't even thought of a date, I only gave her the ring this morning. But whenever it happens, would you be my best man? You will? And you want me to be yours? So you finally asked Sibohan to marry you!"

"He's lived with her for four years. And they have a three-year-old daughter," B tells you with his hand over his cell phone mouthpiece. "About time Dave made Sibohan an honest woman." B returns to his phone.

"Why didn't you tell me earlier? Oh, she wanted to tell her mother first, too! I see. So you're finally getting married! That's even better than your Nobel Prize nomination, Dave! Congratulations! Of course we'll come to Dublin for the wedding! What, put J on?" B gives you his cell phone.

"So you're agreed to marry my best mate! Best wishes and lots of luck, J."

"The same to you, Dave. B said you just got engaged to your girlfriend too. When's your wedding?"

"New Year's Eve in Dublin. It's considered a very lucky day for Irish weddings, and it's after my book tour. Our wedding's going to be at The Clarence Hotel, which Larry and Adam and I own. B's one of our investors. I want B as my best man, and I want you there."

"It would be an honor, Dave. I look forward to meeting you."

"The same to you. I'll book you into the best suite, for free, when you come to my wedding. Ask B about The Clarence. And take my advice and get married in the States, not here in Ireland. My God, the burecracy!"

"Yes, I researched Irish weddings in July at work for a young woman who was thinking of having her wedding in Ireland while she and her fiance vacationed in your country. I told her I had just started dating an Irishman. 'Wow, I sure asked the right librarian,' she said. We were surprised when we found out about the three-month waiting period after applying for an Irish marriage license, and all the other requirements Ireland has about residency and religion and buildings and registry offices. Then there's the other extreme, Vegas, where it's so easy to get a license and find a wedding chapel, you can even say your vows at a drive-through window. Which had better not give my fiance any ideas, because a drive-through Vegas wedding would be *so tacky.*" You yell the last sentence in B's direction.

"You mean when you were a little girl, you didn't dream of how you'd someday lean out your open rental car window, look for the speaker, lean over your groom, and yell 'I'll have one husband, please!'" B says to you. "How your groom would lean out the window and yell "I'll have one wife, please!' How the crackling voice would say, 'We now pronounce you husband and wife. Do you want wedding rings with that? Please pull up to the window and pay and kiss your bride.' "

You laugh. Hard. "Oh, excuse me, Dave, B just said one of the funniest things about weddings."

"I heard. Sounds like a drive-through wedding is out for you two?"

"I hope so, thank God."

"Let me know what you decide, and I'll be there. I'll be in the States soon anyway. My book tour starts in New York next week."

"Will it come to Detroit?"

"I'll ask my agent and let you know. Don't rush your wedding, J. B can be impulsive. Talk about marriage, and not just your wedding, before you get married. That's one reason why it took me years to set a date with Sibohan. Best to you, J. Call me anytime. Put B back on the phone."

"Thanks, Dave. Here's B."

You try not to overhear as B again talks to Dave. You hope Dave's giving B the same advice that he just gave to you.

Your cordless phone rings. The caller ID says it's Joan's cell phohe. You tap B on the shoulder, show him the caller ID. "Gotta go, Dave, gotta talk to my new mother ... well, my mother-in-law-to-be. Congratulations, bless you." He hangs up as you begin talking to Joan.

"Hello, Joan!"

"Hello, Jo Yes, I'm in Seattle. We're at the Original Starbucks. We can't believe how much they charge for a cup of coffee. It's good coffee, though."

"That's why it's Starbucks. Joan. So you're sitting down at one of those little round coffee tables?"

"We sure are. Your aunt Kathy is here. She's drinking coffee and eating coffee cake."

"Listen, B and I have big news for you: B just asked me to marry him."

"Oh, my! This is rather sudden! Kathy!! Jo's getting married!" You hear your stepaunt cheer. "No, you haven't met her finance yet ... is he there? Put him on the phone so Kathy can talk to him!"

"Gee, Joan, I hope your phone battery's charged. B does want to talk to you. Here." You wave the phone towards B. "Hey. Talk to Joan. And Joan's sister wants to talk to you. Two more women for you to charm, honeybee."

He takes the phone. "Hello, Joan. Yes, I want to marry your stepdaughter. I know it's sudden. But I love her, I can provide for her, and I want to spend the rest of my life with her. I want to be her husband. What did you just ask me? Yes. She is. She's due at the end of April. That's not the only reason why I want to marry her. I love her, Joan, I want to make a life with J and with our baby. Aren't you happy that I want to marry her? Do we have your blessing?" He waits. "The line went dead. I think she hung up."

"Oh, shit. She guessed I'm pregnant, ahd she's not happy. Just as I feared."

Ten minutes later, as B holds you while you cry, your cordless phone rings again.

"Oh, no. It's some number in Seattle. I'll get it. Hello?"

"Jo." It's your stepmother, sounding contrite. "Of all the times for my phone battery to die. I'm calling from a payphone now. So you're engaged. And you're having a baby."

"Yes. I take it you're not happy with us right now?"

"Jo, it was a shock to be told you're pregnant. However, it's obvious B loves you. He wants to do the right thing. And it will be nice to have a baby in the family again. I'm sorry your father and your mother aren't alive to finally see you marry and see their grandchild. May I speak to B? Please? Tell him I'm not angry."

"She's asking to speak to you. She says she's not angry. Here." You hand B the phone. He takes it and listens, then speaks to you.

"She gave me her blessing. She wants us to meet their flight home tomorrow night."

"Yes, let's. Let's take them out to dinner and celebrate."

"Joan? We'll meet your plane and take you out to dinner. When does your flight arrive tomorrow? Seven p.m.? McNamara Terminal? We'll be there. Is your sister there? I'd like to talk to her too. Well, get her to the phone! Call us back and reverse the charges if your phone card runs out! I want to talk to my new aunt!" You groan. Because he's just told her to reverse the charges to your phone. But didn't you just tell him yesterday 'my house is your house,' which is even more true now?

B happily charms your aunt and his mother-in-law-to-be via long distance. But not for very long.

"Now we need to figure out both where to take your mother and aunt to dinner, and where to go for our own little celebration."

"Bed?"

"Now who's being silly, my lovely fiancee? You know we can't serve your family dinner in bed. I was thinking about taking you somewhere besides the bedroom for an engagement-baby celebration. You must be hungry. I know I am. And you need to eat good food. Let me think ...."

"While you think of where we can go, I'll change."

"We haven't even been engaged for a whole day, and you're already changing?"

"Just into a nice dress." You kiss him on the cheek.

"Aye." He moves to kiss you on the lips, deeply.

"Stop that or we'll never get out to dinner. I'm a pregnant woman, you know." you tease him when he breaks the kiss.

"I remember how you got to be a pregnant woman."

"So do I. But you know a pregnant woman has already had sex. Even though some pregnant women still like to have sex, I really do need to eat, Soon. In fact, I think I'll stop by the kitchen now. Did you buy bananas yesterday, B?"

"They're on the kitchen counter, J."

You change, and B changes into a suit. B takes you to the restaurant where you went on your first date.

"J, will you marry me?" he asks, again, after the waiter takes your order and you sip your drinks.

Ah, he's asking you again. Sweet.

"Yes, B. I'll marry you. I promise I'll be your wiife and the mother of your child." You lean over the table and kiss him. "But that means you will have to marry me. B, will you marry me? Will you be my baby's father?"

"Yes, J. I'll marry you. I promise I'll be your husband and your baby's daddy."

You clink your glasses.

"Now, we need to start thinking about setting a date and what kind of wedding to have," you tell him. "Should we get married now or wait a little while? And how should we get married? Family and friends at your church? Or have the minister come to my house? Or, as tacky as it seems, maybe we should just fly off to Las Vegas some weekend and elope?"

"With or without an Elvis impersonator?" B asks. "You're a rock and roll fan. You gotta love The King."

"It would be hilarious to have some guy in an Elvis suit marry us, wouldn't it? Or we could quietly go to the courthouse one day, just the two of us and our very best friends as our witnesses, in front of a judge?

"As you and Dave have said, we also really do need to talk about what kind of a marriage we'll have."
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Old 09-19-2005, 01:45 PM   #2
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Thanks for the treat of two chapters in one day. Oh to wake up and B have slipped a ring on my finger.
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Old 09-19-2005, 02:59 PM   #3
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awwwww!!

that way he proposed is one of the cutest things I've heard!!

love this story!
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Old 09-19-2005, 03:06 PM   #4
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You're not alone girl...drooling a ring on my finger fom B...it's just an amazing fic!!!
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Old 09-19-2005, 05:50 PM   #5
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I finally have been able to catch up on this story. Oh man, this is a wonderful story! I just absolutely love it!
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Old 09-19-2005, 05:52 PM   #6
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Jobob, I meant to ask you before, is there any way that you could send me the extended edition of Chapters 8,9,10,and 11. I've been so busy that I never got a chance to ask. Thank you!
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Old 09-19-2005, 06:22 PM   #7
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Aww B, so creative, slipping a ring on her finger while shes asleep! And two chapters in one day! Wonderful!
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Old 09-24-2005, 03:37 AM   #8
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I've really been enjoying this story. It's funny, this story being set in Michigan. Granted, my Indiana home town is like 5 hrs from Detroit, but I still totally understand the things like Coldstone Creamery and Hudson's being changed into Marshal Field's! LOL, I love it!
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Old 11-17-2005, 11:08 PM   #9
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Since I'm about to post new chapters, I'm bumping the last one up for you to reread.
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