Never had two people charged at one another with more polarizing news:
When Mandy spied Thorn, she tore across the sand, her hair, set in pig-tails that day, flying behind her, to lay on him the amazing upshot about the million dollars that Titus had just signed over to Lady Slipper Farm.
But at the sight of his face, she drew up short. Something was terribly, drastically wrong.
He held his smart phone in his palm as if it were dog poop without benefit of a plastic bag.
“Mandy, we’ve got a situation – “
Nick Diehl charged into their midst, his overly handsome face set in a rictus of panic.
“Jesus! I just heard!”
“Heard what?” cried Mandy, her heart flopping over without knowing why.
Nick placed a firm grip on Thorn’s shoulder, bending slightly. He panted from the effort of jogging over the dunes.
“Larry texted me!” He looked up at Mandy. “Larry David. He and Chichi are friends. I guess that’s how the video got sent to Thorn.”
“What video?” shouted Mandy, furious at both of them for keeping whatever was their frantic news from her. “Come on! I can take it!”
But she couldn’t take it.
Thorn held up the small screen and pressed “play”. Chichi Tatem, blond hair tied back in a pony-tail riding atop her head, face smeared with war-paint, stood before the open barn of Lady Slipper Farm. In her arms she held a compliant Albert, the teacup pig who had only known intense human love in his life, and therefore had no conception of the danger posed by the twelve-inch dagger held to his pink and white chest by the crazed actress.
The fifth top female grosser of American movies chirped into the camera, “I’m sick and tired of being messed with by this stupid one-trick piggy farm, and its ridiculous dramas! This squirt’s going down, and then I’m setting fire to the barn before I catch the two fifteen ferry off this stinkin’ little island, and I’m never coming back!”
Mandy could hear no more, if indeed there were more. She bent over at the waist, sobbing, before rearing up abruptly, and yelling orders at Thorn and Nick:
“Come on! Let’s go save our pig!”
“What about the wedding?” said Thorn with what sounded to his ears like an unseemly yelp.
“Oh, frig the wedding!” hollered Mandy as she set off in a dead heat for the truck.
“Frig the wedding,” said Milo to his two buddies, McBride and Shapiro, who shared another bong fire-up with him in his guest cottage which, in spite of the swirling ceiling fans, and all the high windows standing open, now contained weeks of dirty-socks-and-sneakers smell, in addition to the stale odor of rancid beer and what (unbeknownst to them) Teddy Zizik called l’huile de marijuanae. It had seeped into the high wooden beams, and would probably waft out on rainy days for another couple of years.
“What do you mean ‘frig the wedding’?” asked Shapiro, his eyes so heavy-lidded from the grass that he had to lean back his head to vaguely discern his pals. “It’s gonna totally rock for us for you to hook up with Fiona!”
“Rock for you?” sputtered Milo. “What about rock for me?”
McBride said, “But she’s hot!”
Shapiro added, “You’ll gettta travel all over the world! You’ll have it totally made, man!”
Milo whined, “But I got law school! I don’t want to be some pop star’s boy toy!”
McBride said, “You’d have to be in junior high school to qualify.”
Shapiro leaned in to reason with him, then realized a forward motion wouldn’t work; he was suddenly under the impression his head was packed with Styrofoam peanuts. He fell back against the couch again. “Just do it, bro. Marry the chick today. You can always hit ‘delete’ tomorrow.”
“Ya think?” asked the stoned groom hopefully.
“Sure,” McBride chimed in. “You’re a future lawyer! You can figure it out!”
Yes, Sam should have been bartending, but instead he sat in the sand hammock of two dunes, staring out to sea with bleary eyes. He’d just had a good cry. God, how many years had it been since he’d done that? Not since Little League, when he’d been sent in to pinch-pitch at the top of the fifth inning, and his first throw had knocked out a homer with three “men” on base.
Man, that had hurt. But this was worse.
Only ten minutes earlier, he’d come across Nandika and some Indian dude strolling hand in hand towards the Aquinnah cliffs.
“What the hell?!” Sam had asked, stupefied.
“Oh, Sam,” Nandika had said with enduring fondness in her voice. “This is Kapil, my ex-fiancé. We really do belong together, we realize, but we’re not going to marry. We plan to set Mumbai culture on its head by having an arranged cohabitation.”
And as she explained it, he sort of got it. This Kapil guy looked thoughtful and intelligent, just like Nandika. He wasn’t all hippity-hoppity like Sam was and, frankly, the past couple of weeks with Nandika’s parents in the vicinity had been hell-on-linguini-with-mushrooms for Sam. He could never get them to crack a single wan smile. He felt like a standup comic in one rough room after the next, night after night, day after day.
“Don’t they ever laugh?” Sam cried in despair one night to his girlfriend.
She cocked her head, thinking about it. “Not that I can recall.”
But none of that had stopped him from shedding tears just now in the sands.
He wiped his face with both his palms, then rubbed his wet nose in the right sleeve of his tee-shirt.
Well, there’d be an opening in personnel at Lady Slipper Farm. If he could fill that slot with a hot babe, he’d have a shot at revenge with that bratty Nandika before she left in a couple of weeks for India.
Arranged cohabitation, his patootie!
“Oh, there you are, Sam!” he heard a familiar high-Brit voice ring out as the stupendous hostess – a vision in some kind of brown silk slip thing with vaultingly high beige heels – what was it with chicks this afternoon wearing ankle-benders on the beach?! – tottered down to talk to him.
The crowning moment of the afternoon was the arrival of Lama Peldrup from the Buddhist Center. Teddy and Fiona had agreed that a ceremony performed by an Eastern meditation master would satisfy many of the metaphysical needs of the attendant crowd.
Now Fiona herself – still clad in her orange-balloons-and-pandas sundress – came forward to greet the tall thin lady in yellow and sepia robes, her silver hair buzzed close to the skull, rimless glasses over clear hazel eyes and the still-chiseled face of a seventy year-old woman who had once been a German fashion model.
“Lama Peldrup,” greeted Fiona with her sweetest smile. “Thank you for coming on such short notice!”
The Buddhist ani turned her own radiant smile on Fiona, her eyes alight with inner peace. She allowed both her hands to be taken in both of the singer’s.
“Om mani padme hum,” she murmured.