One year later
ONE YEAR LATER
“Dad, please tell me you didn’t.” Harriet groaned into the phone. He had called on a break with EXCITING NEWS, but Harriet couldn’t be more horrified.
“The paper work all completed, signed, and filed away under your name.”
“I’m not going to be moving—no, the other one Quinn—for another year! I don’t need a house in Bel Air. I’m not even sure I’ll get a job in that center.”
“You will Hattie, your credentials are impeccable.” He told her. “And until then, I’m allowing Veronica to rent it while she finishes school, so it’s not just sitting there empty.”
Harriet sighed and went to rub her forehead before remembering that there was old blood on her gloves. She dropped her hand. “Dad, really, it’s too much. And you know how Andrew’s going to get about it. He wants to buy everything himself.”
“That’s typical for someone who grew up without money.”
“Come now Harriet,” He said in that voice she knew from her childhood when she would pout over things or throw fits. “If it makes the two of you feel better, you can pay me back for the down payment and finish up the mortgage. Think of it as a finder’s fee. Are you not thankful?”
I am—it’s just…what if we find another house? As a couple?" They had been looking through newspapers all week and talked to her father’s realtor company. Now she knew why they were so confused.
“Then we’ll sell it or rent it out.” He said matter-of-factly. “Really Harriet, it’s just a house.”
“A four room two floor in one of the most costly parts of LA. Along the—yes, but loosen the grip.”
“What are you doing over there?”
“Quinn’s dissecting a raccoon corpse we found in a bush near the Warf. He’s doing a good job of it too.”
“I still remember your first dissection.”
“Yes, so do I. I can still taste the vomit.”
“How is Quinn doing?” He asked, changing the subject quickly.
Harriet rolled her eyes again. “He’s doing quite well. He’s been staying at home the past week or so, but he’ll eventually go back to Marie’s. He does best there. He says that The Hobo and the—what was it Quinn? In Andrew’s old room?”
“The Man in the Chair.” Quinn said and stroked the soft pelt that they’d stripped the carcass of.
“Yes, The Man in the Chair. They’re both still bothering him at home.”
“Those are two of the frightening ones, I recall.” Her dad said. “I find it fascinating that a portion of his hallucinations are stationary.”
“Some of them aren’t. One-Twenty is still there and South and—Seminar is still there, right Quinn?—and Seminar the Elf. Some of THOSE OTHER ONES still come around, but I truly think the medication and psychotherapy are helping.”
“It is.” Quinn said, poking at an artery softly with a scalpel. “Mrs. Jane is nice.”
“Hmm.” Was her dad’s only response. They were used to talking about Quinn like a patient and Quinn didn’t usually mind. “Well, I have to get back to work. Please clean everything up before your mother gets home. You know how she is.”
“I will, bye Daddy.”
She hung up her cell phone and put it in her pocket. Quinn cut out an organ as she finished up and put it into the red solo cup that Harriet had labeled BLADDER.
“Good.” She said. “And you got the heart already. You’re just going all over the place aren’t you? Do you notice anything interesting about the uterus?”
Quinn moved a piece of flesh over to look at it. “Is it a little big?”
“Take it out we’ll look at what’s inside.” Harriet told him. “It’s called a bi-uterus, where there are two uterus horns. This can happen in people too but it’s considered a defect.”
“Is that why you lost Everett? Do you have one?”
Harriet’s heart lurched. “No. They looked everything over and they don’t know why.”
“Oh.” And he began to take out the uterus. “Are you going to try to have another baby?”
Harriet took a breath. “I don’t think so Quinn. The possibility goes down with every faulty pregnancy. I don’t know if I can go through it again. I’m sorry buddy. I know you were looking forward to having a nephew.”
“That’s okay. I’m scared of spit up anyway.” Blood dripped across the picnic table in Harriet’s old backyard as Quinn took out the uterus and laid it down to open it up. “How are you and Andrew going to have $ex after you’re married?”
“I don’t know. You don’t normally plan it out.”
“Yes, okay. Which way do I cut it? Like this?” Harriet nodded and Quinn went on. “Sometimes I think about Magenta when I ma$turbate. She works best.”
“Do you do that when Danny’s in the room?”
“No. I do it in the shower. He does too. I think the nurses would be upset if they saw anything.”
Harriet laughed. “Please, we see worse than masturbation every day. But if that’s what makes you comfortable.”
What was uncomfortable was how comfortable they both were talking about it. Harriet was a doctor and Quinn was very interested in the mechanics of sex, which was quite common in schizophrenic people. Sometimes he would ask her what girl pubic hair looked like or what exactly an uncircumcised pen;s looked like or how long it generally took Harriet to 0rgasm. She never minded answering questions like that, though Andrew did. And their parent’s once washed Quinn’s mouth out with soap for saying vag;na.
Quinn’s parents weren’t handling Quinn’s schizophrenia with ease, but it was better than Harriet expected. His mother had only called a priest for an exorcism once. And thus far, Andrew had only ever slugged one priest which was good, she supposed. They visited him at Marie’s, but they didn’t talk to Daniel or anyone else and disapproved of all of Kendle/Magenta/Theresa/Seroise.
Quinn had recently taken up painting in Marie’s art center and was actually, surprisingly incredible. Harriet, foolishly, hadn’t expected much to come from it. Quinn’s hands were so shaky and seemed stuck in their harsh, awkward angles. But she couldn’t have been more wrong. He started out painting what the instructor had them paint as a class, but he started painting the view of the courtyard from his window and then abstract paintings of the rooms in Saint Marie’s. With lots of coaxing and pleading from Harriet and Quinn both, Andrew was able to convince the staff at Marie’s, as well as their parents, to sell the paintings at auction. One of his best pieces was bought by a private benefactor. It was a painting of the commons room at Marie’s with each person’s illness laid out. Kendle was not just Kendle, but four different people with the same face. Daniel was a sunshiny boy with a blue figure curled into a ball at his feet. There were other people in the room, each with their own problem, and Quinn himself was in the corner, a messy ball of dark colors.
It went for over five hundred dollars. They called him The Madhouse Artist and people loved the anonyms figure. He’d even been in the paper twice.
Quinn had actually drawn the portrait for the wedding and refused to let them see it even at the rehearsal dinner. Harriet tried to convince herself that everything would be alright.
“Are you excited to be in the wedding?” She asked.
“Was that a question?”
“I don’t know.” Quinn said. “I mean you’re already together a lot, so it’s like you’re already married and you already almost had a kid. I’m just not really sure about the people part.”
“People part?” Harriet asked, again biting back the sting of being reminded about Everett.
“The wedding people part.”
“It’s on the beach, not in some closed in chapel. The people-to-space ratio will be diluted. Just look at the water if you have to.”
“And the reception?”
Harriet thought about the last time she had been to the hidden garden over the parking garage. It had been years ago, her first unofficial date with Andrew. It felt like a life time ago as much as it felt like yesterday.
“The area behind the elevator shaft entrance was empty when I saw it last. I don’t think anyone knew it was there, but there’s a little bench and it faces the sunset. You can sit there and I’ll even bring you food.”
Quinn nodded and scratched his ear against his shoulder. “You’re a good sister.”
Harriet’s heart skipped a beat, then grew in size. “And you’re a good brother. The best I got.”
Quinn smiled and dropped the spleen into its designated cup.
Andrew had always heard that wedding were expensive, but he hadn’t really known it would be THIS much. Dr. Thatcher was paying most of it and Andrew’s parents had shouldered some, but still, just LOOKING at the number… Andrew would have never been able to pay for it on his own and it stung to know.
It had taken him long minutes to separate his wedding plans from those of the others that the shop had on file. Color schemes and bride’s maids dress orders were scattered everywhere and with every second that ticked by that Andrew couldn’t find it, he felt another vein pop in his forehead. Even now that he had it, the veins weren’t going down.
He was happy, he was. He was getting married and two days and he really and truly was happy. But. But weddings were expensive and half the flowers had yet to be delivered and Ariana Homczech, the manager of his London store, had asked to extend her maternity leave to stay home with little Casey. He needed her at the shop, but he wasn’t going to be the @ss that denied her time with her daughter.
“Seymour,” Andrew called. “Does Harriet’s dress happen to have a whole lot of satin?”
“You know I can’t tell you that,” His assistant called from the next room. Seymour had made Harriet’s dress, but wouldn’t let Andrew know a thing about it. He kept it at his partner’s house.
“It’s just that our inventory shows a lot of satin missing. And lace. And I was just wondering if…” Andrew’s voice trailed off as he realized just what kind of satin was used. “Seymour. For the love of god, please tell me you did NOT use silk duchess satin?”
“And so what if I did?” His idiot friend called from upstairs.
Andrew ran a hand over his face. “That stuff is sixty dollars a yard and—ELEVEN? In what universe do you need eleven yards of silk fu¢king duchess satin?”
“My universe. Now stop asking question.”
Andrew muttered a string of curses and put the inventory list to the side for a time where he couldn’t feel the stress in every inch of his body. Perhaps after the wedding. The phone rang then and Andrew reached out to answer, praying it wasn’t that cursed woman throwing the cotillion. He’d gladly blow seven hundred dollars on satin if he could strangle her with it.
“Bapson Tailors, how may I help you?”
“You can help me by telling me why I never got an invitation to your wedding, you *******.”
Andrew rolled his eyes and tucked the phone between his ear and shoulder and reached for the wedding planning book. Sure they’d hired someone to help, but for the most part it was Andrew doing all of it. Harriet had barely helped with anything. That was alright though. She’d been so busy at work, what with her residency ending in November and all the stuff she had to get done before then. They weren’t even having a honeymoon until after it was over. That was alright though. A Christmas honeymoon. Maybe they’d go back to Paris to that café…
“You’re already my best-man Em.” Andrew said. “It’s not like you’re not invited.
”But there’s a certain…je ne sais quaoi about actually receiving a thick, stock-papered invitation in the mail. Announcing the union of one Andrew Thomas Bapson and Harriet Rose Thatcher. My mom will want to scrap book it."
“That’s not even what it says Elias Nik Mavros.” Andrew flipped through the book.
“Well I wouldn’t know, now would I?”
“Em, I swear if—” There was a beep on the phone and a blinking light on the receiver. “Hold on, there’s someone on the other line. Bapson Tailors, how may I help you?”
“Mr. Bapson, the dress that you promised would be here today has not been—”
“Mrs. Moore,” Andrew clenched his fist until his nails were close to drawing blood, but he managed to keep his voice pleasant. “I told you when we spoke this morning that it will be delivered early tomorrow morning. You agreed, remember?”
“Don’t talk to me as if I were a child.” She said sharply and Andrew’s anger jumped.
“Mrs. Moore, I have another customer on the other line, would you like to hold for a while and then I would be happy to—”
“No, no.” The bitter lady said. “But if that dress isn’t here by nine o’ clock tomorrow morning, I’ll see you rue it.”
“It will be there Mrs. Moore, have a good night.” The lady hung up before he got a chance. He went to click the button to switch it back to line one to finish his argument with his friend, but yet another call came through. He let the line through. “Mrs. Moore, I promise that—”
“I don’t know who Mrs. Moore is, but I hope that’s not the way my son speaks to her.”
Andrew dropped his head into the wedding book with a thump. “Hello mother.”
“Don’t sound so glum, aren’t you supposed to be happy? You’re marrying THAT GIRL the day after tomorrow.”
Harriet had become yet another THAT GIRL to his mother ever since she’d had him sign a pre-nup. Admittedly it hurt a bit, but Andrew had gotten over it within minutes. Had he a couple million tucked away and a couple more circulating the stock market, he might want to protect it too. But he didn’t. He was barely able to pay the bills he needed to pay. Maybe having three shops wasn’t the grandest idea…
“I am happy Ma, really. I’m just tired is all. Weren’t you before your wedding?”
She seemed to take pity on him then. “When your father and I got married, we had our entire families pulling us every which way. I know it’s been a long time since you’ve seen the rest of your family, but let me assure you, they’re all very Greek. Picture Em’s family with twice as many people.” She laughed a bit. “We thought about eloping once or twice. Grab some white dress from my closet and take off to Vegas or find some tent city with a priest. But our parents insisted we marry in the church.”
“Are you suggested Harriet and I elope?”
“Oh, God in heaven no. Don’t you even say that. Do as I say, not do as I do, that’s what I always taught you. You know, you and Quinn ought to listen to your elders and your PARENTS more often. Did you know Quinn returned the shirts I bought him? Those were VERY nice shirts and—”
”He doesn’t like orange, Mom. He’s never liked orange. He says it makes him feel like a pumpkin and he’s afraid someone will try to carve him up like a jack-o-lantern. Now what did you need?"
“Did I raise you to be that rude?” Andrew could FEEL her holding the cross around her neck the way she always did when she was upset by something. So usually always. “Anyway, I wanted to tell you our car is broken and the idiots at the shop don’t have an opening until next week.”
Andrew buried his face deeper into the book. “I’ll take my car over later and you can drop my off back at the Thatcher’s.”
“You know, I don’t like you too living together before your wedding.”
“We’ve been living together for three years mom. I’ll see you later. Good night.”
He hung up before she could say another word and he switched it to the other line. “Em? Em, you there?”
Andrew hung up the phone and sat back to look at the book. “Seymour, have the bubbles been delivered?”
“Uh,” The disembodied voice called. “In a manner of speaking. They’re all white instead of gold. I already called the company.”
He groaned. “Thank you.”
“And even if we can’t get them on time, white’s not bad. They could’a been orange. How’d ya think Quinn would like THAT?”
Andrew felt himself chuckle though he didn’t feel it. The bell at the front of the store rang and Andrew turned around in his chair, whether it was to help the customer or scream, he didn’t know. A familiar girl with brown hair and grey eyes walked toward him holding a folded dress in her arms. It was Veronica Cleming, Harriet’s old friend and her Aunt Phyl’s daughter.
Andrew had never been quite sure why or when they had grown apart, but he assumed it had something to do with Harriet skipping grades and getting scholarships and becoming a doctor while Veronica was just a simple accountant who still had student debts, having refused her parent’s money. Andrew personally liked the way she had wanted to make her own way in life, but something about the whole situation had dissolved an old friendship. It was a shame really. Quiet as she was, Veronica seemed smart and kind, though maybe a little stiff, sort of like Harriet had once been.
“What can I help you with Veronica?”
She looked down at the dress and picked at a loose thread. That made Andrew’s eye twitch. Never play with loose threads. “I was wondering…well this is the only pink dress I have and the hem is fraying. I wanted to know if you could fix it. If you have time.”
Andrew smiled. She was like a scrawny, gray clad bird, always fluttering about, never quite sure what to do with herself. “Of course. Bring it over here.”
The dress was pretty enough, though a little wrinkled. Tea length, blush colored georgette with a small bow at the left hip. Very plain and feminine. More Harriet’s style than something he could see Veronica in, but that didn’t matter. He hemmed it easily and turned to give it back to her, only to find her looking at the wedding book.
“It looks pretty.” She said softly and gently turned a page. “It’s just like she said it would be.”
Andrew placed the dress on the counter. “How do you mean?”
“When we were little, we used to have play weddings. Harriet was always the bride. I never minded. She wanted a pink wedding with a big dress with pearls up the back and a tiara, like she was a princess. She said she wanted her honeymoon to be in Alaska, so she could see the Northern Lights. She told me she wanted to have a bunch of kids and stay home with them and buy them all ponies.”
Andrew felt his heart tremble. “I don’t know about ponies, but… It makes me happy to make her happy.”
“Me too.” Veronica said, her voice so naturally quite it was like a whisper. “She finally gets to be a princess now. She always was.”
“Well, her prince is a little swamped right now.” Andrew laughed a bit, but it was discorded. “I can only pray that everything will be ready by the wedding.”
Veronica looked up, her grey eyes wide. “I could help, you know. If you wanted. I’m good with numbers. I could help you with…this.” She picked up a little shoe box of receipts. “Or anything really.”
Andrew thought about what she’d said, about the play weddings they’d had as children, and realized he had a secret weapon standing before him. A girl who knew all Harriet’s childhood wishes. If Harriet was too busy to help, maybe her old friend could.