• Cindy Marabito

A Thousand Dollar Wedding

A Thousand Dollar Wedding from The Legend of Sky Diamond

Boy, the smell of chicken frieds was overwhelming. It was back during the afternoons when we’d all pile up at the Figaro’s bar between shifts at the Dollhouse. It was famous for Addison happy hours. Figaros was a weird joint. I can still smell it as if it was yesterday. The place served Italian food and had cheese shakers on all the tables, so you never could tell the difference between the parmesan and dirty stripper panties. The chicken fried smells came from the waitstaff at the Black-Eyed Pea. It was located in the same shopping strip as Figaro’s right there on Montfort and Beltline. Their lunch shift ended about the same time as the Dollhouse, so there we’d be. All piled up at Figaro’s drinking up our lunch tip money. Figaro’s had a huge disco floor with strobe lights. People rarely danced in the afternoon unless they were lit up like the lucent dance floor. I still can’t hear “Sweet Dreams Are Made of These” and not smell fried meat and cheese. The scent fills up your olfactory until it’s consumed with the stench of decaying animal fat. It smelled even worse coming out of bodies at the bar. We’d be throwing back a few after our shift, or between them. Everybody at the Dollhouse worked doubles. The lunch tips were shit and you needed evening money to make ends meet. And those Figaro’s bar tabs went through afternoon money real quick. We were gathered there that day to discuss Holly’s wedding. She was marrying Mike, the Dollhouse manager. Everybody knew he was only marrying her to get his citizenship. He’d been bitching for months about his visa lapsing. Boy, he had some bad teeth. What they said about the English was true. What was it with the teeth? Mike’s were gnarled like toenails on bad feet. Holly was no looker by a long shot, but I never got how she could kiss him. And she’d go in long, that one. Like she couldn’t get enough. Mike had an extra eyetooth and it was the first thing you saw when he opened his mouth. The English and their teeth. The three sisters all worked at the Dollhouse. The oldest was Garland who took her name from the town they came from, Garland. She was visibly pregnant and mainly worked lunch and Sunday nights. She already had one kid and couldn’t tell you who the father was. She was a avid General Hospital fan. She’d named her other kid after Robert Scorpio whose real name was Tristan, but she’d gotten it wrong and named him ‘Trinstan.’ She was so homely, the other girls called her Mr. Roper behind her back. Even her sisters called her that. Holly was the middle sister. Long brown hair and on the plump side. She had bad skin and was always nursing a spray of whiteheads, even on her tits. The youngest was cute, Bambi, and looked like she came from another family. She’d almost made the drill team cut at Garland High School, the Dashing Debs, but dropped out of school and went to work at the Hooter’s. She was dumb as a stick and always telling anybody who’d listen how they did things at Hooter’s.. So, we’re sitting there at Figaro’s that afternoon with Phil Collins singing ‘I Don’t Care Anymore.’ The three sisters, Mandy Rose, Puddin’ and myself. In our stripper get ups. Puddin’ had her six-shooters laid up on the bar. She wore a Western-themed outfit with a white fringe vest and short skirt. She had a history with Mike from back in their England days, but nobody ever mentioned it. “I’m not wearing Leg O’ Mutton sleeves,” Puddin’ said, blowing out a long puff of smoke. She shook her long black curls. “No way, man.” She always laid on the thick English accent like you never heard before. Even in pirate movies. I was a little nauseous from the heavy odors and took a drink of my vodka and soda. The lime seemed to help. Holly’s colors were deep maroon and gray. She’d picked out deep red suits for the groom and groomsmen and these long and hideous gowns for the bridesmaids. She’d gotten a good deal on the whole mess from a cancelled North Dallas wedding. The dresses were made from cheap velvet, the kind you saw under Christmas trees that held lint. “It’ll be stunning,” Holly snapped at her. “You’ll see.” Her eyes veered off like she was dreaming. “Like Luke and Laura’s.” It was kind of funny that Holly’s name was the same as the new General Hospital star, Holly Sutton. The three sisters loved the show and were always comparing their own sad lives to those of the characters. “No way am I wearing that shit” Puddin’ added, a big sneer on her lips. Holly tried to change the subject. “I just wish I could have the horse drawn white carriage.” Bambi said, “Robert Scorpio is so dreamy. He looks like Jimmy, our manager at Hooter’s.” Mandy Rose started laughing. “Hooter’s again. Why don’t you go back there if you like it so much? God.” Mandy was so beautiful with that long gypsy shag of hers. She could always get away with saying most anything. She had that New York sass. Holly wasn’t giving up easy. “No, it’s gonna be beautiful. All the girls in maroon velvet. Like Christmas.” She turned to face us. “Holly’s in the bouquet.” A trickle of liquid ran down Garland’s lip from her nose. She was kind of pitiful, that one. “You’d fuck the barback,” Mandy Rose said to no one. Holly rose up and glared at Mandy Rose. “We all have dreams, bitch.” Her eyes weren’t the eyes of a joyous bride that day. One thing was for sure. I wasn’t about to miss this wedding for the world. It was doomed from the get go. Next thing you knew, the big day had finally arrived. The back room of Don Miguel’s was all done up. Mike knew the manager and they got a cut rate for Sunday afternoon. I couldn’t tell if the priest was Catholic or Russian Orthodox. He was sure strange looking and had the accent to go with the robe and gilded hat. It was funny to see all us strippers decked out in Sunday go-to-meeting sexy doll outfits. Garland immediately started crying, a line of mucous running down her lip. I almost felt sorry for her watching her sister exchange nuptials, her belly stuck out to there with another illegitimate child. The smell of Mexican food filled the room as Holly gazed starry-eyed at her English bridegroom. They looked like a strange pulp fiction book cover, those two. They’d written their own vows, at least, Holly had. She’d been working on them for weeks in the dressing room at the Dollhouse in between dance stints. I realized as I stood there taking it all in, I’d never been to a wedding before. I’d seen enough of them on Another World, but certainly never in live action. Even though, what I was experiencing was out of this world, even for Addison, Texas. Nobody expected this thing to last, even Holly’s own sisters. Puddin’ was cornerwise and looking on with a sneer. I wondered what in the world she had on Mike. When Holly and Mike finally sealed the deal with the wettest longest kiss in North Dallas history, we all yelled our encouragement. “Good luck. You did it. Congratulations.” The Don Miguel’s dj kicked up the jams. Yeah, every place in Addison had a disco, even Don Miguel’s. Lou, the Dollhouse assistant manager, took the mic and tapped hard on the outer windscreen jacket of the thing. After an enormous whistling screech, Lou’s too deep voice filled the restaurant. His voice didn’t match his gangly frame. He was always trying to lay the strippers and nobody would take him up on it, not even Garland, and she’d fuck just about anybody. “Let’s all give this marital couple a send off for their first dance as man and wife.” He was grinning like a fool and the effect was bone-chilling. The unmistakable introduction to “Up Where We Belong” started up and the two began dancing around the room. I could see the bags under Mike’s bloodshot eyes from the too hard partying the night before. I’d gotten wind of the bachelor party. They’d actually had it at the Dollhouse and word had it, Mike had screwed a dancer. You couldn’t tell by the way he was burying himself in Holly’s leg o’ mutton wedding gown, though. He’d sure earned that green card, he had. We’d all seen the movie, but nobody was expecting Mike to end this flamboyant routine by picking Holly up like he was Richard Gere in the ending of An Officer and a Gentleman. When he almost dropped her in a big slow motion around the world dance twirl, Lou jumped in and kept Holly from hitting the Mexican tile flooring. He really was the best man that afternoon. Puddin’ about lost it and couldn’t quit laughing. She could laugh cruel, that one. The tequila shots were flowing and before long, the entire wedding party was drunk and disorderly. Lou was trying to rub on Mandy Rose. Jed Bode grabbed him by the throat and Mandy had to step in to stop what was sure to be a serious injury. Lou was a raging drunk who could never hold his liquor. The look out of Jed’s eyes was dangerous. He was unhinged and liquored up from the tequila. There had been some history with Jed upstate where he and Mandy had come from in their little town of Rome, New York. I never got the whole story as Mandy would only refer to it when we’d be drinking late at night and watching MTV. From what I could put together, somebody had gotten hurt really bad and either died or turned into a vegetable. Mandy would always catch herself at some point in the story and look off, her eyes frightened. One thing was for sure. She was terrified of Jed Bode and for good reason. They’d set up a buffet with fried tortilla chips and the house salsa. Nachos and chicken flautas were brought out along with sizzling beef fajitas. The food came out a little too late to offset all that tequila and the party began to break up. Garland and Bambi had to get out of their wine-colored bridesmaid attire and get ready for the Dollhouse Sunday night shift. Garland was quite a sight in the maternity version. The last thing I remember is Lou driving off out onto Beltline in his pale blue beat up Ford Maverick. It was low to the ground and all you could see was his gnarly head leaned way back like he was a player. He drove with one hand melodramatically twirling the steering wheel by the palm. He really thought he was something, Lou did. Never ceased to amaze me how much false confidence that guy had. I stood there in front of Don Miguel’s as dusk hit the town and thought to myself, if this is marriage, you could keep it.

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