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Rob Peterson
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weddingnight.jpg
Art by Mr. Byron 2011

Wedding Night

 

Rob Peterson

 

 

“Mierda!” exclaimed Elizabeth, as the plate of half-eaten cake slipped off the room service cart and toppled onto the carpeted floor just outside of the elevators. 

 

She pushed the cart to the far end of the alcove, and using a spent napkin, did a halfhearted job of cleaning up the mess. She tossed the napkin onto the cart and headed for the employee elevator and her break.

 

*     *     *

 

          “Kyle?” Lisa called out from the hotel room’s master bath. 

 

The honeymoon suite had been his idea. Starting off life together with style, he’d said. The wedding was perfect. The reception was a blur of friends and relatives, champagne and bites of food. And the dancing.

 

          “Kyle?” She was smiling at the memory as she called out again. She tossed her toothbrush back into the travel bag and poked her head out the door. “Kyle, honey. What are you doing?” 

 

          She pulled up her wedding dress to keep the bottom from dragging now that she’d kicked off her heels. She moved into the living room that separated the bedroom from the bath.

 

 “Kyle!” This time she screamed.

 

          Kyle lay in the space just inside the bedroom door. His body was rigid and jerked convulsively. A white foam formed on his lips, his jaw clenched tight. Eyes shut, Kyle’s head rolled back and forth while a low moan came from somewhere deep inside of his chest.

 

          This had happened to him twice before. The first time about a year ago, and again three months before the wedding. The first time had been just after they’d gotten serious. It was a minor event, a set of tremors and a high fever. The last time had been more serious and had required a trip to the emergency room. Lisa had made him submit to a battery of tests. None of them turned up anything.

 

          “Just stress and overwork,” Kyle had said. “Don’t make a bigger deal out of it than it is. Lighten up, would ya, babe?”

 

          Lisa had seriously considered postponing the wedding. But, she and Kyle went to the exams, and they listened to the doctors say they couldn’t find anything organically wrong with him. They prescribed anti-seizure medication, put him on a high-fiber, low-salt, no-alcohol diet, and pretty much ruined his summer.

 

          And now there he was, twitching madly on the floor at her stocking feet, just hours from the altar. 

 

          “Kyle!” She screamed again and fell to her knees at his side. What had the doctors told her to do if this ever happened again? 

 

          “This had better not happen again,” Kyle had said, dripping sarcasm. “If I have to give up my entire summer’s worth of beer, I’d damn well better be cured.”

 

          Get help.  The thought crowded out all others. Just go and get help.  Lisa placed a hand on Kyle’s forehead and looked at him for a heartbeat, rose and ran for the phone on the bedroom night stand. She punched the speed-dial for Guest Services and was greeted not by the front desk, but by a recording saying they were busy assisting other guests and to please hold.

 

“Shit,” Lisa said, throwing the receiver on the bed and running out of the hotel room. Panic set in now, her heart pounding hard in her chest.

 

          The door clicked shut behind her as she looked right and left, not remembering which way they’d come. She chose right, and ran past a half dozen doors until the hallway ended abruptly. A Coke machine chugged away in the corner.

 

          “Damn it,” she said, and tore off in the direction she’d just come. She ran past the door to their suite, not pausing. 

 

Get help! The thought was so loud, it seemed to push her forward.

          She turned a sharp corner and saw the gleaming stainless doors of the elevators to her left.  To her right was an open balcony, looking out onto an expansive courtyard lobby. Trees, native shrubs, and flowers were scattered between small water features and cozy benches. 

 

          Lisa’s foot hit the remains of the spilt cake. The combination of speed, butter-fat, and nylon threw her forward with the force of a shove. She slammed into the stainless railing and momentum carried her over the edge. 

 

          Get help, she thought as she dropped to the lobby floor. Lace fluttered around her. It was a strange sensation, this weightlessness. Kyle had been right, it wasn’t the falling that killed you, it was the stopping. She smiled at the memory.

 

Her body crashed into the flagstone floor six floors below. 

 

“Kyle,” she said with her last breath, a small smile still on her lips.

 

*     *     *

 

          The door clicked shut behind Lisa as she looked right and left, not remembering which way they’d come. 

 

Kyle kept his eyes closed tight and continued to jerk from side to side, counting to five, to make sure she didn’t come right back into the room.

 

          I can’t believe she fell for it, he thought. He walked into the bathroom and splashed water on his face, rinsing the foaming soap from his mouth. 

 

“Stuff tastes like mango,” he said. He smiled at his reflection in the mirror and tossed the hand towel on top of the travel bag on the counter.

 

          For three months Lisa had been on him. Stop drinking, don’t use salt, exercise more, take your pills. Even though the damn things made him feel like he was walking on Bubble Wrap, he took them. And he stopped drinking. And he cut down on salt, and fast foods, and junk. And he was exercising more now than he’d ever done in his life. 

 

          He did it all because he loved her, and because that last episode had scared him shitless. But he wasn’t about to let her know that. Not ruin the wedding she’d dreamed about since she was a little girl. 

 

          “Lighten up, babe,” he would say to her whenever she scolded him, or looked at him with concern after the hundredth trip to the hundredth doctor. 

 

          Now they were finally married. Starting off life together in a luxury honeymoon suite had been his idea. 

 

          “I told her we’d start off life together with style,” he said out loud and started toward the bedroom door. She’d always thought his sense of humor was a bit warped, but he could always get her to smile in the end. 

 

          He figured he’d better get to her before she made a scene in the lobby.  If that happened he’d have to spend the rest of the night, if not the rest of his married life, making it up to her.

 

The door clicked shut behind him as he looked right and left, not remembering which way they’d come. Sounds of a commotion came from his left and he moved in that direction. He rounded a corner and saw the gleaming elevator doors to the left, and an open balcony overlooking the lobby to the right. 

 

The muffled sounds of screaming and crying came up to him from the lobby floor as he pushed the “down” button. “Too late,” he said to himself.  “How’d she make it down there so fast?”

 

The elevator door slid open and he stepped inside, turned around and hit the button for the lobby. The door slid shut and the elevator dropped to the lobby floor.

 

 

 

 

Rob is a native son of California, growing up in Southern Cal before moving to North California where he resides with his wife Terry. He works in the print and promotional products industry (At Your Service Promotional Products). He has a Masters degree in psychology. This is his first published short story. He's currently shopping his first novel, a hard-boiled detective yarn about his PI Jack Gallowe, called Right Side of the Tracks.

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