Chapter 1

Chapter 1

A Chapter by Paris Kim

No, I had not recently talked to George, but we were to meet again, for it was soon to be our good mate Charlie’s wedding in San Francisco. Ah, Charlie! This was to be without doubt his happiest moment yet. Getting married at a prosperous age of thirty-two bloody hell, the chap’s only two years my junior! Fancy that!

However, let me set the record straight. In a sense, I cannot set it straight, for Charlie’s gay. He came out sooner than I could find him the perfect girl (as I always did for my good mates) to maintain his preceding sexuality. And now, he was to be wed by the courts. What could I say? The poor bloke’s my good mate, and I wouldn’t miss out on such a blissful event for him.

And I guess the lucky man, literally, was that tall, freckled bloke with purposely messy hair that I had acquainted myself with at Eastbourne last year when Charlie had returned from backpacking in France. Eastbourne was a complete b***h; Charlie, his fiancé, and I were supposed to have tons of amusement having a night out in the city, but it all went to spoil because Charlie could not go dancing with another without his fiancé’s consent. The man was too high maintenance as well, for he found it hard to have fun dancing and drinking beverages he considered “foreign” to him. I was happy for Charlie, but definitely not in his choice of love. A complete b*****d, I say.

But what of George? It had been nearly a whole year since the two of us had seen each other. In college, George and I were the best of mates anyone could possibly imagine. We did it all-- well, sort of. We had our giddy times out, like the local music venues or the glitzy dance clubs, but that was only when I could convince the bloody swot to get away from the hardships of college. You could say that I, Sir Geoffrey Armstrong, was the more outgoing of us two, and he the more taciturn and socially withdrawn. It must’ve paid off though, because George graduated from Nottingham University with honors from each class.

And I left the place with nothing. F**k all.

Well, the wedding took place in San Francisco. I lived on a modest estate, Pewesbury Park, in west Hampshire of England, and it was a bit nice to be away from home. This was quite an advantage, for there was not much that I needed to pack, and I found myself staying in one of the most prestigious hotels in the city.

At the wedding reception, it was very fascinating to see how happy Charlie seemed to appear, standing at the front of his aunt’s house in Pacific Heights, next to his husband greeting the guests for the soiree. God, it was good to see him again; he gave me a brief big embrace, which made me nervous (him being gay and all), so when it came to congratulating his husband, or Thomas as I quickly discovered, we merely shook hands.

I led myself into the house and out into the rear garden, which was lavishly shrouded with vibrant-colored garlands of flowers and oversized pastel-colored Japanese paper lanterns suspended above the many seating tables and quests who chattered away. I was eager to find someone of my acquaintance, but having found no one, I ensconced myself in the far side of the garden, observing the other guests deep in conversation whilst cheerfully sipping at my glass of champagne. Suddenly, I felt a light tap on the shoulder. To my delight and surprise I found a rather joyous George grinning before me.

“My god!” I exclaimed, literally.

“What the hell, Geoff,” George meekly replied.

“Nothing, you just freaked me out is all, George.”

“You? Freaked?” he simply retorted, still grinning. He looked the same as I had last seen him a few days ago: a slightly dull yet handsome American bloke full of unexpected expressions, and modestly dressed in a simple indigo tailored suit jacket, loose khakis, and dark loafers. Poor chap, George was not a man for mastering the perfections of style and taste, whereas I had a full closet of Paul Smith and Dior, all custom suited and fine dress-shirts suspended on long racks that led up to my shelves of various neatly kept shoes, most of course deriving from John Varvatos and many other high-end designers. I slightly arched my eyebrows in disapproval.

“Yes mate, well,” I replied in a tone that convinced him of how I aggravated I was. “Any road, good to see Charlie happy and all. The ceremony was something.”

“Something, I should say indeed,” George agreed. “I was surprised at how quick it all seemed.”

“Courts are different, I should think, from a church or whatever but especially since it’s a recognized license of union from Britain. It would’ve been easier if they just got married in their home country rather than the States.”

“Then where would that leave the likes of me?” George jokingly implied.

“The odd b*****d out, of course!” I teased.

“Ha, you would care. Well, look at me and Melissa, our wedding was in England.” Melissa Berkeley. God, what a b***h George’s wife was with me. She hated my lifestyle and tried to use George to influence me, which of course didn’t work out. I let out a laugh and shook my head. “True,” I started, “and maybe that’s why Charlie came here. He was a groomsman, if I remember well.”

“And so were you,” he reminded me. “Melissa would’ve been here, but she hasn’t felt too well recently.”

“I see,” I said, “but I never asked about Melissa did I, George?”

“Oh, Geoff, c’mon. It’s not that she hates you. Really.”

“Really? Well, hate is a bit strong I guess for someone who told me to f**k off when I last saw them.”

“It’s been awhile, man, and I’m sure she’s lightened up since then. It has been what, a few months? Well, it’s perhaps due to the both of us caught up in our own situations.”

“Yes, yes.” At least he was trying to change the subject matter. Slightly. “How’s the business; paper, right?”

“No, no, books,” he corrected. “All’s going well.”

“I see,” I said. It then became silent for a few minutes. We smiled, looked about us, smiled once more, looked ‘round again; god, what a bore of a situation I was in! I was begging in my mind for someone to call me aside, perhaps Charlie, but he was deep in conversation with a couple far off from where I was standing, and I knew no one else. And I definitely did not want to talk to Thomas, as closer as he was to me.

Finally, George said, “I take it you’re still writing songs?”

“No, not recently,” I said, although he had now reminded me of what I had been doing instead. “ However, I was having quite a time in Monte Carlo a few weeks ago.”

“ Getting ideas?” He chimed.

“ No, no, just on my yacht.” We fell silent again, but this time, Charlie came over to us as to help revive our conversation.

“Ah, I see that old college mates have met with each other once again!” he cried. I tried to look content, although I was bored as hell. I looked at George: he appeared to not be enjoying my company as well.

“A most unexpected affair,” George sighed.

I didn’t want Charlie to suspect how uninterested I was becoming in George, so I changed the subject. “Oh Charlie,” I exclaimed playfully, “If I had known you had that many guests between you and Thomas, I would’ve let you use Pewesbury at my greatest pleasure!”

“No, I couldn’t possibly have done that, Geoffrey!” Charlie cried. “It would’ve been too much for a friend like you to handle!”

“Nonsense! Charlie. Besides, it’s not like it’s the actual ceremony we’re discussing here. What’s done is done.”

I heard George scoff softly at my reply.

“ Oh, well, can I interest the two of you in a new glass of champagne?”

This was my signal to escape. “Well, you are kind for your hospitality,” I assured him, “but I can easily get it myself.”

But Charlie would not permit it in the slightest bit. “No, no, you mustn’t! I insist-”

“Well,” George suddenly interrupted. “ If Geoff here hasn’t any objection to serving himself, think of it as a generosity towards you Charlie, my God! You’ve done quite enough to please every guest here as is.”

“Exactly,” I added, relieved that even George himself wanted me away. “So, if you two gents don’t mind, excuse me for the time being.” I left straight away, relieved to be deprived of such unbearable boredom.

The soiree continued into the evening, and by seven o’ clock I was drunk as hell. You couldn’t blame me, for there wasn’t much to do except get pissed. And, it actually did help me meet a few new friends. I lost track of both time and where the hell Charlie was, and frankly I was not bothered. I was having quite an extravagant time, although I may not have known it. I think I was even that moved at one time to give Thomas, as disagreeable as he was, a small peck on the cheek.

It all seemed to go by so swiftly, especially the one incident that always comes to memory with the young American girl to whom I said something I believed to be quite flattering, but instead received a most unwelcome “f**k off.” It never will matter what I said, nothing ever does. I’ve gotten used to trouble off and on, and I’m always apt to get around these bits and bobs due to my rank. Such a lifestyle is always with these sort of flaws, but the next day and after that something odd but exciting always happens, almost like a privilege. Sometimes it feels like my perception of this world is something that everyone around me seems to be missing out on, especially poor George.

In this fashion of being pissed George actually came up to me as I was circling around the refreshments for another champagne glass. “Do you realize how many of those you’ve had?” he asked half-heartedly.

I shrugged and told him I couldn’t remember. “Have you been watching me?” I asked, “tell me then how many I’ve had.”

“Too many for my company,” he accused, taking a glass that I had just given away for his own thirst. “The speeches are soon, Geoff, and imagine how awkward it will be with you lingering like some drunk-a*s in the back of the garden.”

“Let me be the drunk-a*s if so,” I blurted, “light up this piss-poor excuse for a party. Don’t you think so too mate? We’ve been to better parties back in university.”

“Time with you back then was a piss-poor excuse for university,” he snapped, and took hold of my arm for me to sit with him. “You are unbelievable sometimes, with these countless antics you put yourself through.”

“Antics are to amuse other people,” I stumbled over saying, losing my footing for a split second, “whereas right now, I’m amusing my own self thank you. And you ought be believe it, mate, because you’ve been stuck with my self-amusing a*s for years now. How about you’re unbelievable?”

“Don’t try the turn the tables,” he said, although I could tell he wanted to laugh. “I don’t want to miss the speeches, okay, and as boring as they will be they mean a lot to Charlie, as he means a lot to us.”

Diplomatic load of s**t to be sure, prompting me to appropriately mock him. “Well, hell, George, when you say it like that I feel bad it’s Thomas and not you up there.”

 “Dude, c’mon,” he snapped again while we found two seats with a table of the most hideous-looking human beings I’d ever seen-- certainly from Thomas’ side. As for the speeches, whatever the f**k I was listening to was not worth my plane ride over here. Kill George for making me sit through it all; yeah there were some interesting punch-lines on occasion but they were after some quick analysis, mediocre. I kept envisioning where else I could possibly be at that moment besides there-- Rio, the Mediterranean, Tibet or where palm trees grew in tons and my estate in the center of it all-- being drunk was very beneficial to this game for sure. Then I began to think about the possibility of being in real places, those of people I knew very well and even my own estate in its real location, then my mum’s place in Norfolk, the recording studio I hired in London, and of all places, George’s house in Sausalito on that nice hill overlooking the bay. Then the vision of staying with George at his house became blurred by an intrusion of Melissa, startling me into a loud and clear “Oh, Christ, c’mon!”

I then realized that this outcry caught the attention of everyone, looking at me with a mix of expressions I wouldn’t care to recollect. Gazing over at George with my mouth slightly dropped open, I did the oddest smile at him and got up to leave. How could I stay even longer? I wasn’t even really enjoying myself.

I got my coat at the door, but couldn’t remember where the f**k my keys were to the rental car. I mean, they weren’t hard to find, to an ’07 Mercedes SL 65 for the week; it would stick out like a sore thumb against the keychains to Jettas and Volvo scraps of s**t, so where were they?  Shaking the coat like a madman, they fell out of the breast pocket, and I was anything but ready to leave the place when I actually flinched at my actions. Here I was, s**t-faced and about to drive one of the loveliest cars out for hire. The most logical thing to do was not drive back to the hotel myself. No, I waited for George.

The party let out almost two hours later. I sat on the front porch, slowly sobering up while peering into the face of every guest that came out the door and went down the stairs. Finally George surfaced, and I blatted out to him, “Berkeley!”

He did a double turn to my call. “You didn’t leave?” he asked.

“Well, it’s sort of a funny thing,” I began, and I honestly had no clue what I was talking about, “uhh, I think I can’t drive.”

“Well, I should say so,” George agreed, moving out of the way of the other departing guests. He sort of laughed. “Wow, you really didn’t drive ‘cause you’re wasted?  Smart lad.”
            F**k him. “Oh, sod off George,” I said, trying to swat him away. “I need a ride back to my place. Pleeeeaaase?”
            “Why didn’t you just go join everyone the rest of the night instead of wait here?”Curse him for giving me a damn hard time.         

“I can’t associate with those people, it’s f*****g San Francisco! They’re all a load of non-profit-home-made organic beer drinkers and tree huggers who I’m sure have not showered in weeks.” It was a shame I said such things when I was pissed, because I adore San Francisco in honesty, and it’s funny about the home-made beer remark, because that’s how I came to live: an heir to the Armstrong Ale and Co. of Sheffield, England, 1852, rated the finest thing from England after those fuckers at Newcastle.

George was shaking his head, but this time laughing. “Yeah, you definitely need a lift back. Where you staying?”

“The Fairmont,” I said.

He took the keys and off we were to the place, just down the street off California Street where the hotel sat across from the Grace Cathedral. The car ride, short, was very silent. I would’ve made some sort of conversation, but poor George, who drove something like Saab or a Toyota, seemed too nervous to even make any moves in my car.

He went so far to walk me into the lobby. “How are you getting back to Charlie’s?” I asked him.

“I’ll just take muni back to my car. Take it easy, alright?” he patted me lightly on the back. And I still hadn’t fully come around. “Don’t touch me, you sodding f*g,” I said half-jokingly. His face got serious.

“Don’t f*****g joke like that around here,” he said. “it’s San Francisco.”
            I nodded and gave him a salute. “Right.” He was about to leave, by the wave of his hand, but out of the blue he asked in the nicest way about something I agreed to. And if I were sober when he asked me this, I would’ve said “another time,” or brush it off politely somehow. He asked if I wanted to come over to his place for dinner. His and Melissa’s place. Holy f**k.

© 2011 Paris Kim

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Added on March 7, 2011
Last Updated on March 7, 2011


Paris Kim
Paris Kim

San Francisco, CA

an optimistic college student who takes her life growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area and turns it into truthful fiction. always finding a way to smile and laugh and make the most of anything thro.. more..

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