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S.H Carlyle



          Brian Adair, a UPS delivery person, was driving his step-son Jeremy, a senior at JFK High School in Lowell, Massachusetts, to his prom. Brian has been dating Jeremy's mother Colleen for almost two years now. Jeremy's father Kevin had been an IT manager for CSS Global and had been working on an infrastructure contract in Iraq when an RPG shot through his window and blew up his office. Kevin sustained heavy injuries to his chest and arms and was sent back to Lowell, but Colleen, who had always rightly suspected that Kevin had been sleeping with his spin class instructor, told him that he should move out as soon as he got better. Jeremy was indifferent as Kevin had been a cold father and he had learned to get along without him.


          Brian met Colleen through Brian's sister Amanda who worked two floors up from Colleen in the same professional building. Colleen was an accountant at Fradin and Company and often took her lunches at the Chilis on the corner of Adams and Franklin Village Drive. She had met Amanda there one day as they both waited for a table. They now met there every Thursday.


          Brian and Colleen had only been dating for a year when she suggested that he move in with her. Things with her had been pleasant, but Brian had never thought that living together was a realistic possibility. His ex-wife hadn't gotten much in the divorce as Brian didn't have much to give. He still had the condo and the car and was fairly satisfied with the way things were with Colleen. There were some problems. Colleen obviously had trust issues that translated into a sexual reclusiveness that Brian found frustrating. For his part, Brian was prone to break plans at the last minute if the opportunity to take some overtime presented itself. But all couples have their issues.


          Now Brian was in the truck with Jeremy.


          "So where does your date live Jer?" "Jer" was the handle that Brian had created for Jeremy. He had little idea that Jeremy hated it.


           "Near the school," Jeremy replied, finishing the stiching on his bowtie with his portable sewing machine. Jeremy had sewn most of his tuxedo himself. Since January, he had been working with a variety of fabrics, learning how to manipulate satin, and experimenting with the idea of putting a Western pocket on tuxedo pants. He was obsessed with the detail of the process. Only Jeremy knew that the silk lining was made from a fine Bengali weave and that the pockets were modelled after those of Pierce Brosnan's tuxedo in "Goldeneye". He and his date Karen had met in sewing class at the community centre. Neither was particularly attracted to the other, but at least enjoyed the other's company. Karen's father had once met Pierce Brosnan in Mexico when he was filming "The Matador."  He was staying in the same hotel Karen's father and his wife were when they were on vacation. "Looks older in person," was his only comment. He was more of an early Connery man.


          "Just let me know when to turn," Brian said.




          The machine whirred as Jeremy finished the edging on his tie. "Not bad for a last-minute job. Karen is working with chiffon on her dress. Really tough with a sewing machine."

           "It all sounds hard to me," quipped Brian, looking out the window. He hadn't taken much responsibility for Jeremy's development as he didn't feel that he should. At eighteen, people were nearly formed and Brian's attempts at fathering would have come off as awkward and forced. Jeremy was fine, maybe a little strange, but at least he wasn't gay.


          "I'm gay," said Jeremy.


          The car ahead of them braked suddenly as a SUV going the other way caught the last flash of the yellow light going south on Walker. The truck's braking distance was at least fifteen feet at the speed they were going, so Brian swerved right, taking the truck onto the sidewalk. The front-left tire caught the soft grass between the sidewalk and the road as Brian tried to pull the wheel back. The rear of the truck swung around as it slid down the small hill beside the middle-school parking lot. The whole production was over in less than five seconds. Brian got out and walked up the hill. Jeremy followed with his sewing machine in hand.


           The police sent four officers because of the insurers involved. UPS, the school, and the city would all want a solid report of what happened. They even sent a photographer to document every conceivable angle of the accident. As Brian spoke to the policemen, the photographer approached Jeremy.


           "Were you going to the prom at JFK tonight?"


           "Yeah, but those cops told me I'm not allowed to leave until they finish everything."


            "Too bad. I graduated from JFK in 1999. My prom was great. My date was a fantastic slut."


            "I'm gay," said Jeremy.


           "Supposedly we're all a little gay. Do you want me to get a picture of you in your tux?" asked the photographer.


            "Sure," Jeremy said.


           "Hold up the sewing machine," said the photographer as he lined up the shot.


            "Pierce Brosnan had to do seven auditions before he got 'Goldeneye'," said Jeremy.


            "Are you okay?"


            "Probably," replied Jeremy.




S.H. Carlyle is humor writer whose works have appeared in McSweeney's and other publications. While he fears the awesome mystery of the world wide internet, you can reach him

A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure. - Henry David Thoreau


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