Brooke McQueen’s Wedding
Disclaimer; Popular and its characters belong to Touchstone and Ryan Murphy. I’m just borrowing them and won’t make a profit. This is just for entertainment.
Rating; general, horror.
A freely altered rewrite based on E. Nesbit’s original story “John Charrington’s Wedding”
No one would ever have believed that Brooke could pull it off; especially me. No would ever have conceived that regal, blond ice queen, head cheerleader Brooke McQueen was a lesbian, and had somehow managed to keep her sexual preference an absolute secret all through her time at Kennedy Highschool until her first year at Harvard which she started attending with the intention of becoming a lawyer. It was at that point in her life that the former prom queen decided that she felt secure enough in her destiny that she was ready to tell the world her secret; that she was gay and in love with her former nemesis and recalcitrant step-sister, the beguiling Samantha McPherson.
Brooke and Sam had been enemies from the very first time that they met at the age of five in kindergarten. The first time that the prim and proper Brooke saw her dark angel Sam, the little five year old girl was playing in a sandbox by herself. Flaxen Brooke was so enchanted by the wraith-like little girl that she decided to approach her.
Litle Sam had looked up from her intense playtime in her private sandbox world only to see a beautiful, smiling golden child poised nearby and looking quizzically at her.
Sam was quite confused, “?” was the little brunette’s reply.
“My name is Brooke. What’s yours?” Little Brooke gave little Sam her most engaging smile.
“Sammy,” little Brooke almost cooed, delighted by the girl’s title.
“Its not Sammy,” the girl said angrily, “I’m SAM.”
Already at that tender age, Samantha was displaying the trait by which she would be most recognized; bull-headed arrogance.
“Sammy.” Little Brooke was displaying at her own tender age the trait by which she would pester and annoy Samantha over the next fifteen to twenty years; determination.
“Well,” Brooke decided that she liked teasing the little girl who’s face had turned almost beet red, and who’s dark eyes seemed smouldering coals, “I like Sammy better. Anyway I’ve decided that I’m going to marry you when we grow up.”
“Two girls can’t get married!” Sam exploded.
“Who says so?”
“My mom says so,” Sam replied all in a huff, “and she knows everything!”
“Well my mom says girls can do anything!” Brooke said with determination, “and she knows everything!”
“My mom is smarter than your mom!”
“No. MY mom is smarter!”
Already the framework for the two girls and their difficult relationship had been established as they continued to bicker.
“My mom told me only boys and girls can get married,”
Sam continued as if she were the wisest woman in the world, “and I’m gonna marry Harrison when I grow up!” the little brunette pouted haughtily at the visibly flustered golden girl that stood before her.
“You’re gonna marry me!” Brooke insisted with all her might as she crossed her arms.
“Will too! My mommy says girls can marry girls no matter what. And I’m gonna marry you Sammy!”
Samantha was beside herself with ire and indignation, “your mom is weird!”
“My mom is a lesbian!” Brooke added proudly, “and I’m gonna be one when I grow up!”
Sam scratched her head because she had no idea what a lesbian was, and could only reply from her own experience, “I’m gonna be a reporter like my dad Joe!”Suddenly the girls were approached by a gangly, smiling dark haired boy.
“Hi Harrison,” Sam said with a smile as she gazed dreamily at the freckle faced boy.
“Hi Sam.” Harrison blushed because to him Sam was the queen of his entire world.
Brooke was not at all pleased to see how her girl smiled widely at the newly arrived, pasty faced child boy that she suddenly detested, and decided to make her presence known as well as declare her territory. So Brooke pushed the skinny boy down onto the sand in the sandbox as she claimed her prize verbally for all the other children in the playground to hear and remember, “go away!” the golden girl’s voice was shrill, “Sammy is mine!”
Poor little Harrison started crying. Sam huffed and clenched her little fists, “hey you can’t do that! You’re a bully!”
“Sammy is mine!” Brooke yelled at the world around her, “Sammy is mine!”
“No you shut up!”
“No you shut up!”
The girls began to argue so loudly that the teacher Ms. Smith and Brooke’s mom Kelly had to come and separate the girls quickly.
Sam was taken inside by Ms. Smith, and Brooke was taken aside by her mom.
“Brooke what is going on?”
“Mom,” little Brooke gushed, “I’m in love with Sammy.”
“You’re just a little girl,” Kelly lovingly admonished her daughter.
“But I am so in love!” Brooke persisted, “and I’m gonna marry her someday!”
“Brooke you should keep that a secret!”
“People won’t understand how you feel. Just don’t say anything else okay?”“Okay mommy,” Brooke admonished and heeded her mother’s words from that day on, keeping her love for Samantha a secret, and a stern eye on the girl for the following years.
From that time on, Brooke made absolutely sure that no boy ever managed to go steady with Sam by using every sneaky technique that she could think of; spreading rumors, lying and cheating, or just simply stealing him away from the girl of her dreams.
Sam and Brooke grew up heated enemies in the eyes of the world, and in Sam’s own eyes. In Brooke’s eyes she was just waiting for the right time to assault her beautiful dream of love with a marriage proposal.
Sam grew up practically shunned by boys, few best friends because Brooke would interfere. Sam hated Brooke with all of her heart. Already Brooke had separated Sam from her one time good friend Nicole Julian, and her almost first sweet heart Josh Ford.
All through grade school and middle school Sam and Brooke fought. Sam hated Brooke and didn’t know that her hatred was one-sided. Brooke pretended to hate Sam and secretly plotted to make the stunning girl her own for life.
In time Brooke’s mom Kelly divorced her dad Mike and moved away. Sam’s dad Joe died and left her mom Jane alone to care for the girl. When Brooke and Sam reached highschool, their lives changed when Mike and Jane fell in love. Sam was forced to move in with her mom Jane into Mike and Brooke’s home.
Sam preferred to die a horrendously painful death rather than share a toilet with her worst enemy. Brooke the spider pretended to be angry but inwardly jumped for joy because now Sam the fly was in her web for good.
Eventually life changed again for the girls as their trip through adolescence and Kennedy Highschool ended and they graduated. Both Sam and Brooke were admitted to Harvard.
Brooke was going to study law and finance like her dad Mike before her, and Sam with a scholarship was going to major in English Literature and Journalism like her dad Joe before her.
Fiery tempered, stunningly beautiful Samantha and cold beauty Brooke were now far from home and on their own. Brooke had somehow managed to convince Sam to share a room with her in college. Sam complied not knowing that Brooke was making a proverbial bed for her.One night Brooke and Sam were in their dorm room studying. Brooke looked up from her book to gaze dreamily at Sam who was sitting at her desk working on her laptop. At that moment Brooke recalled the first time that she had seen Sam so many years before, and decided that it was time to continue that argument they had almost twenty years before.
“Oh,” Sam looked away from her desktop to look at Brooke with surprise, “what?”
“I’m gay,” Brooke repeated, “you sick of me now?”
“Not really,” Sam shrugged, “just sorta surprised. You’ve always been so straight with boyfriends and all.”
“It was all a lie with a very direct purpose Sam.”
“Heh,” Sam almost smiled then stopped, “what? What about me? What do I have to do with this?”
“I’m gonna marry you Sammy!”
“Will not! I’m straight!”
“Will too! You’re not straight!”
“Oh I am too!”
“You’re bi Sam. I know. You liked Harrison and Josh in highschool, but you had a hankering for Nicole too. You almost went steady with her.”
“Eh yeah,” Sam almost smiled but stopped herself realizing that it meant that Brooke was right, “now wait just a minute! I’m going steady with Harrison!”
“Long distance relationships don’t work Sammy. Harrison is in the army and I’m right here with you. I’m available to date you and he’s gonna hump every bitch he sees.”
“He will not.”
“It doesn’t matter what you say Sam. I’m gonna marry you no matter what. You belong to me.”
“Brooke you are such a neanderthal!”
“We live together. We use the same toilet. I’m gonna wear you down. You’ll eventually just give up and give in cause you’re gonna need sex and like I said I’m available, gorgeous and safe.”
“You are so full of yourself!”
“You’ll see Sammy you’ll see!”
Suffice it to say the subject was closed for that night only to be brought up again on numerous occasions.
I never thought that it would happen in a million years. No one ever thought that Sam would marry Brooke; but she thought differently, and things which Brooke intended had a queer way of coming to pass. It all seemed quite incredible to everyone; that Brooke would brazenly openly declare herself a lesbian, then propose marriage to Sam who was known to be an ardent heterosexual engaged to an Army guy somewhere. But Brooke continued to ask Sam to marry her while they were both at Harvard. Sam laughed and refused her. Brooke asked her again a million times. Again Sam laughed, tossed her dainty dark head and again refused. Brooke refused to get the obvious message, and kept asking her. Sam said it was becoming a confirmed bad habit, and laughed at Brooke more than ever.
Brooke was not the only person who wanted to marry her: Sam was the campus beauty, and everyone was in love with her more or less; it was a sort of fashion, like rum and whiskey or rock n roll clashing with country. So a lot of people, including me, were disappointed and annoyed as hell and surprised when Brooke walked into the campus library to attend a meeting of the local ex-cheerleader club which had exactly five members in it, and invited all of them to her wedding.
“Your wedding?” one of the members named Liz asked with evident disbelief in her eyes.
“Are you kidding Brooke?” I asked flabbergasted.
“You don't mean it? Really?” another member named Betty exclaimed, “Who's the happy pair? When's it to be?”
Brooke sat down at the table she always shared with her friends, and opened her compact and started to retouch her make-up.
Then she said, “I'm sorry to deprive you girls of your only joke -- but Sam and I are going to be married in September.”
“You don't mean it?”
“I think Brooke’s been using bad heroine. She’s totally insane. Sam hates her guts!” Betty exclaimed.
“No,” Liz said, rising, “She’s not crazy. Brooke is telling the truth. I can see it in her eyes. Somebody give me a gun. I want to kill myself. I don’t know how you did it, Brooke. Its like totally come out of nowhere. Brooke...you managed to bewitched the most beautiful girl in all of Harvard. What did you do? Hypnotize her? Slip her a mickey? Was it a hex or a love potion?”
“Nope,” Brooke said with a smirk, “Its no secret power. I used a good old technique called perseverance. I damn wore her down. I’m the luckiest woman on the face of the earth!”
“There must be a catch!” I asked angrily because I suddenly hated Brooke intensely for winning Sam’s love which I had secretly wanted for myself.
“I’m not kidding, Carmen!” Brooke said gravely as she glared angrily at me.
“Stop it,” Brooke snapped at me.
There was something in her voice that silenced me, and all the joking from the rest of the group didn’t even scathe her impenetrable exterior.
The queer thing about it was that when we congratulated Sam, she blushed and smiled and dimpled, for all the world as though she were in love with Brooke, and had been in love with her all the time. I swear to God, I think Sam had been in love with Brooke all the time, and had just been playing hard to get.. Women are strange creatures you know. I may be a woman but I still can’t understand my own gender.
We were all asked to the wedding. At Harvard, everyone who was anybody knew everybody else who was anyone. All the girls in our club, and in the dorm we all stayed at, and that included Brooke and Sam, were, I truly believe, more interested in what Sam was going to wear than the bride herself, and I was to be sort of like the best man but really the best woman cause it was going to be a lesbian wedding. The coming marriage between cold beauty Brooke and stunning Samantha was the favorite topic of conversation on campus between the students and the faculty who found the entire affair quite amusing. But always the same question would arise at ever discussion of Brooke and Sam’s wedding; did Sam really love Brooke as much as she was loved in return by Brooke?
I used to ask that question myself in the early days of their engagement, but after a certain evening in August I never asked it again. I was coming home from a night of partying at a local club in town, and took a shortcut through a wooded area of the campus that bordered the high stone wall of the Arts and Literature building. The small forest like area was on a sort of a thyme-grown hill, and the turf about it is so thick and soft that one's footsteps are noiseless.
I made no sound as I walked slowly by the low lichened wall, and threaded my way between the trees. It was at the same instant that I heard Brooke's voice, and saw her sitting on the plush grass with Sam next to her. It was dawn, the sun was just coming up, and Sam was leaning against Brooke. I watched Sam quietly, and saw how her face turned towards the full splendor of the western sun. The expression on Sam’s face as she turned back to look at Brooke ended, at once and for ever, any question of love for the blond girl; it was transfigured to a beauty I should not have believed possible, even to that beautiful little face.
Brooke now lay at her feet, and it was her husky voice that broke the stillness of the golden August evening.
“Sammy I love you so much, I believe I would come back from the dead if you wanted me!”
I coughed at once to indicate my presence because I was inwardly embarrassed of the intimacy that I was seeing between the two young women, and passed on into the shadow fully enlightened.
The wedding was to be early in September. Two days before I had to run up to Quincey on some errands such as cashing in my federal aid check at the bank for the classes I had picked for next semester. I was at the train station waiting for the train which was always fifteen minutes late, of course, for we are on the South-Eastern end of the town, and as I stood grumbling while checking my wristwatch, whom should I see but Brooke and Sam. They were walking up and down the unfrequented end of the platform, arm in arm, looking into each other's eyes, careless of the strange stares and sick interest of the porters and other passengers.
Of course I knew better than to hesitate a moment before burying myself in the booking- office, and it was not till the train drew up at the platform, that I obtrusively passed the pair with my Time magazine under my arm, Apple Ipod at my ears, and took the corner in a first-class smoking-area because I was smoking thin Dominican cigars at that time. I did this with as good an air of not seeing them as I could assume. I didn’t particularly like seeing all the lovey-dovey displays between Sam and Brooke. I pride myself on my discretion, but if either Brooke or Sam had been travelling alone I would have wanted their company. I have always felt uncomfortable around large displays of emotion. I preferred being by myself.
“Hey Carmen!” came Brooke’s cheery voice as she swung her bookbag onto the ground and waved at Sam from where she stood looking out of the window. “I was expecting a dull journey. I am so glad to see you. Now I won’t be alone for half the trip.”
“Hey Brooke,” I answered while returning her greeting, but devoid of the same enthusiasm she had upon seeing me.
I casually looked out of the compartment window only to feel my heart beat madly at the sight of a beautiful Sam coming up close to the side of the train to get a last look at her beloved Brooke. I couldn’t really help myself. I had been in love with Sam for a long time and always dreamed that maybe somehow she would love me back despite her being het and me being gay. I never took the challenge of trying to win her over the way Brooke had.I was just too much of a coward, terrified of how destroyed my heart would be when Sam turned away from me in repulsion, rejecting me forver even as a friend because she couldn’t bide my being a lesbian. “Where are you off to, Brooke?” I asked, discretion still bidding me turn my eyes away, though I saw, without looking, that hers were red-rimmed as she still looked out the window at Sam.
I”m off to Boston to see an uncle on my mom’s side,” she answered, shutting the compartment door and leaning out the window for a last word with her sweetheart.
“I wish you wouldn't go, Brooke,” Sam was saying in a low, earnest voice. “I have a bad feeling that something bad is going to happen to you. I’m terrified of losing you. I wouldn’t be able to bear life if you didn’t come back to me, baby!”
“Do you think I should let anything happen to keep me, and the day after tomorrow our wedding day, Sammy?”
“Don't go!” she answered, with a pleading intensity which would have sent my pining heart out onto the platform and me after it.
But she wasn't speaking to me. Brooke was made differently: she rarely changed her opinions, never her resolutions. If Brooke ever decided to do something, she would do it no matter what, come hell or high water.
Brooke reached out of the train window to briefly stroke Sam’s extended fingers as she stood outside on the platform.
“I have to go see my uncle Rich, Sammy. The old man’s been awfully good to me, and now he's dying. I must go see him, and tell him about us. But Sammy I promise that nothing will keep me from coming back to you. I swear it on my soul.
I’ll be on time for our...” the rest of the parting was lost in a whisper and in the rattling lurch of the starting train.
“You're sure to come?” Sam spoke as the train moved.
“ I swear it Sammy. Nothing will keep me from marrying you,”Brooke answered; and the train started to move. After she had seen the last of the little figure on the platform Brooke leaned back in her corner and kept silence for a minute.
When Brooke spoke it was to explain to me that her godfather, uncle Rich, whose heir she was, was in the last stages of lung cancer, and lying in his deathbed at his home in Boston. The old man had sent for Brooke, and the lanky blond felt bound to go see him one last time.
“I won’t be gone too long. I most definitely will be back tomorrow,” Brooke said, “or, if not, the day after, in heaps of time. Thank heavens, one hasn't to get up in the middle of the night to get married nowadays!”
“Brooke, what if your uncle wants you to stay longer?” I asked.
“It won’t matter anyway. Alive or dead I mean to be married to Sam on Thursday. I’ve been waiting my whole life for her, and nothing is going to stop me!” Brooke answered with firm determination as she opened up a copy of the Washing Times that she had folded under her arm, and began to read it in silence.
At the Boston station, Brooke and I said goodbye, and she got out. I saw Brooke walk away down the platform as the train started up again. I went on to Quincey, where I stayed the night.
When I got back to my dorm room at Harvard the next afternoon, a very wet one, by the way, my room-mate Betty greeted me with:
“Where's Brooke?” Betty asked curtly. She had every reason to be worried because she was going to be Sam’s bridesmaid.
“How the hell should I know?” I answered testily. I was still in a bad mood despite the fact that Brooke considered me a good enough friend to want me as her ‘best woman’ beside her at the altar. I should have been more sympathetic, but no one can help having a broken heart.
“I thought you might have heard from Brooke,” she went on, “because, Carm she considers you her best friend and you are giving her away to Sam at their wedding tomorrow. So its only fair to assume Brooke would have called you.”
“Isn't she back?” I asked, for I had confidently expected to find Brooke back here at home.
“No, and I’m worried,” Betty said. (Betty always had a way of jumping to conclusions, especially such conclusions that were always somehow morbid or fatal) “Brooke hasn’t returned, and, what is more, you may depend upon it she won't. You mark my words, there'll be no wedding tomorrow.”
My room-mate Betty had a power of annoying me which no other human being possesses.
“YOU mark my words,” I retorted with asperity, “you better give up making idiot of yourself. There'll be more wedding tomorrow than ever you'll take the first part in.” A prophecy which, by the way, came true.
But though I could snarl confidently to my Betty, I did not feel so comfortable when late that night, I, standing down the hall from the room that Brooke shared with Sam, I heard her say that Brooke had not returned from Boston. I went into my dorm room gloomily, got in my bed still wearing my clothes and fell fast asleep. Next morning brought a brilliant blue sky, gold sun, and all such softness of air and beauty of cloud as go to make up a perfect day. I woke with a vague feeling of having gone to bed anxious, and of being rather averse to facing that anxiety in the light of full wakefulness.
But as I staggered out of bed and toward the bathroom, noting thankfully that Betty had gotten up earlier and was gone, I found a note tucked under my door a note from Brooke which relieved my mind and sent through the whole day and all of my classes with a light heart.
I saw Sam in my third period English Lit class which I shared with her. We would sit together in the back of the class and share notes. Today I noticed that Sam looked a bit anxious as I slid into the seat next to her and took out my notebook to start taking notes.
“Brooke wrote to you too,” Sam whispered to me without even greeting me first. That’s how it had always been with Sam; Brooke was first and foremost on her mind no matter what she was doing.
“Yeah,” I said nonchalantly. “I’m to meet her at the train station at two. From there we are to go straight to the church. The wedding is at three so there should be plenty of time for her to get ready.”
Sam had always been this delicate shade of pale all her life, but today there was a brightness in her dark eyes, and a tender quiver about her full lips that spoke of renewed happiness.
“The old man begged Brooke to stay an extra night. And you know what a big heart Brooke has so she couldn’t refuse,” she went on. “but I wish she hadn't stayed.”
I was at the station at half past one. I went there even earlier than planned because I didn’t want any mistakes or problems. It was a special day for Sam, and I wanted her to be happy with Brooke even if it was never going to be with me. I felt rather annoyed with Brooke for a while for having gone on this unexpected trip to see a dying uncle.. It seemed a sort of slight to the beautiful girl who loved her. That Brooke should put the old fart ahead of Sam, and that she should come as it were out of breath, and with the tiredness and sweat of travel upon her, to take her hand, which some of us would have given the best years of our lives to take.
But when the three' o'clock train glided in, and glided out again having brought no sign of Brooke, I was more than annoyed. I was downright enraged with her. There was no other train for thirty-five minutes; I calculated that, with much hurry, we might just get to the church in time for the ceremony; but, oh, Brooke had not arrived. What other woman could have done it?
That thirty-five minutes seemed a year, as I wandered round the station reading the advertisements and the timetables, and the company's bye-laws, and getting more and more angry with Brooke. This confidence in her own power of getting everything she wanted the minute she wanted it was leading her too far. She was downright arrogant, and I found this trait in Brooke utterly hateful. And I hated Brooke for having Sam so in love with her.
And I hated myself for the millionth time for being the loser in all this. AndI hated waiting for Brooke. But I told myself I really didn’t hate poor Brooke at all. Its just that everyone hates waiting, but I believe I hate it more than anyone else. The three thirty-five train was late, of course. I rushed out of the train station and hailed a cab.
“Drive me to St. Paul’s Baptist Church on Willard St. and Tenth Ave!” I said to the cabbie as as I shut the car door behind me. “I’ll give you a twenty dollar tip if you get me there in ten minutes!”
I wanted to believe with all my heart that Brooke must not have been able to catch the last train for reasons beyond her control, and not because she just dumped poor Sam at the altar.”
I ground my teeth and hung on to the back seat as the Hindu cabbie enthusiastically put his foot down all the way on the gas and sped off, taking side streets as shortcuts. But I fumed every time we had to stop at a light or slow down when the cabbie suspected there might be a police car close by. But the cabbie did his best, doing some very dangerous manouvers at times to get me to the church on time to stop the wedding, and maybe console Sam. Oh who was I kidding! Part of me actually wanted Brooke to fail, to turn out to be a cad so that I would be the one to console Sam and have her all to myself. But no I said to myself as I shook my head. I couldn’t hope for such things if I truly loved Sam. And I really really did love that girl more than anything in my entire life, and I wanted her to be happy even if it was never to be with me. So yeah I was hoping against hope with the other side of my heart that somehow Brooke showed up at the church before I did. But of course I knew that such a presumption was a very narrow one and that Sam was headed for a major heartbreak and I wanted to be there to make matters as quiet and simple for her as I possibly could.
Anxiety now replaced anger in my heart. What had happened to Brooke? Could she have been taken suddenly ill? I had known both Brooke and Sam since highschool, and I had never known her have a day's illness in his life. And even so Brooke should have called my cellphone to let me know if she had a problem.Some awful accident must have happened to her. The thought that she had played Sam a bad deal had entered my head but I blotted out as quickly as I could. I preferred to think just the opposite. Yes, some thing terrible had happened to Brooke, and on me lay the task of telling her bride. I almost wished the cab would crash and break my head so that someone else might tell Sam, and not me.
It was five minutes to four as the cab parked in front of St. Paul’s Baptist Church. A double row of eager onlookers lined the path from lychgate to porch. I quickly got out of my cab, paid the smiling cabbie the fare and the extra tip, and passed up between them. The gardener from Harvard whom I knew very well had a good front place near the door of the church. I stopped to talk to him.
“Is the wedding party still waiting for Ms. McQueen to arrive, Mr. Byles?” I asked, simply to gain time, becauseI knew they were by the waiting crowd's attentive attitude. 'Waiting, Ms. Ferrara? No, no. Of course not. Why the wedding must be over by now.”
“Over! Then Brooke McQueen showed up on time without me?” I was beyond flabbergasted at the news.
“Yes ma’am,” the gardner replied to me. “Ms. McQueen showed up exactly on time. The lady just walked right through the church doors only a few minutes before her lovely bride walked down the aisle. To almost the exact minute, Ms. Ferrara.
Too bad you weren’t able to be on time, Ms. Ferrara.
Ms. McQueen must have missed you at the train station somehow.”
Then the gardner did a strange thing; he looked around him and approached me only to speak almost in a whisper. “Ms. Ferrara I must say this to you, and please don’t take it the wrong way. I am in no way offending your friend, Ms. McQueen, and I say, that I have never seen her in such a bad state before. But I think she looked very out of place as if she had been drinking. Her clothes were disheveled, and her hair was unruly. Her face looked whiter than a sheet. I even believe that Ms. McQueen might have been high on some drug from the wild look in her eyes. I tell you I didn't like the looks of her at all, and the folks inside are saying all sorts of things. I found it all very, very inappropriate to show up that way to marry such a beautiful lady as Ms. McPherson. You'll see, something's gone very wrong with Ms. McQueen. She looked like a ghost, and in she went with her eyes straight before her, with never a look or a word for none of us. I always considered Ms. McQueen to be a very polite lady, but I was entirely wrong about her!”
I had never heard Byles make so long a speech, or talk that way about anyone before. Old . The crowd in the churchyard were talking in whispers and getting ready rice and slippers to throw at the brides. The ringers were ready with their hands on the ropes to ring out the merry peal as soon as Sam and Brooke stepped out of the church.
A murmur from the church announced them; out they came.
Byles was right. Brooke did not look her normal neat self. She looked like she had been dropped in a war zone. There was dust on her clothes, her hair was disarranged. She seemed to have been in some kind of fight, for there was a black mark above her eyebrow. Brooke was deathly pale. But her pallor was not greater than that of the bride, Sam who might have been carved in white stone; dress, flowers, face and all.
As Sam and Brooke passed out the ringers stooped -- there were six of them -- and then, on the ears expecting the gay wedding peal, came the slow tolling of the passing bell.
A thrill of horror at so foolish a jest from the ringers passed through us all. But the ringers themselves dropped the ropes and fled like rabbits out into the sunlight. Sam shuddered, and grey shadows came about her suddenly palemouth, but a determined, silent Brooke led her on down the path where the people stood with the handfuls of rice; but the handfuls were never thrown, and the wedding bells never rang. In vain the ringers were urged to remedy their mistake: they protested with many whispered expletives that they would see themselves further first.
In a hush like the hush in the chamber of death the bridal pair passed into a waiting cab, and its door slammed behind them.
Then the tongues were loosed. A babel of anger, wonder, conjecture from the guests and the spectators.
“We should have stopped the wedding right away!” Betty almost yelled out to me as she came up beside me.
“Where were you, Carmen?”
“I was at the train station waiting for Brooke!” I replied angrily.
“Just how the hell did she get here before I did?”
“I don’t know but I don’t like the way she looked,” Betty said quickly. “I told Sam to stop the wedding, but you know how she is when it comes to Brooke. Sam was just glad to see Brooke.
But during the vows Sam started to get scared. Brooke had the strangest look in her eyes, and her touch and presence were cold. I was getting chills, and I knew that Sam was terrified. But it was too late to do anything. I knew that Sam had waited so long to marry Brooke and she wasn’t going to put a stop to the wedding for anything in the world, and no matter how scared she was!”
“I don’t like this, Betty!” I yelled at my room-mate.
“Let’s go after those two!”
“Yeah I’m with you on that, Carm! But the cab is gone.”
I was desperate looking around, but instantly my heart soared as I saw the Hindu cabbie who had brought me from the station still parked in his cab only a few feet away. “Look, Betty,” I cried, “my cab is still waiting! Thank God!” I yelled as I forcefully grabbed Betty by the hand and dragged her behind me til I reached the cab and opened the back door for us to get inside while I looked at the smiling cabbie. “I’ll give you another twenty if you can catch up with that cab that just left!” I yelled at the cab driver.
“Yes miss,” the cabbie replied, “I can.”
Betty and I were already sitting in the back of the cab when the cab driver slammed his foot down on the gas pedal and took off making the tires of the cab screeched as he drove down the entrance to the church at about sixty in five seconds.
“FASTER! FASTER!” I yelled at the cabbie in utter desperation. “I’ll double the tip I promised you!”
“YES MISS!” the cabbie yelled at me over the roar of his engine as he sped down Willard Street, then turned onto Eight Place.
“STOP! STOP!” I yelled at the cabbie when I saw the cab that Sam and Brooke had taken parked about two blocks ahead. The cabbie obeyed on cue, and brought the cab to a screeching halt almost side by side by the other cab. The Hindu cabbie was a good driver but he almost lost control of the cab with us in it, and it was a good thing the street was deserted because otherwise all three of us, Betty, me and the cabbie would have been in a major car crash.
I was the first one to reach the cab only to find the cab driver, a balding man in his fifties slumped and unmoving over the steering wheel of the car. When I looked in the back seat of the cab I was horrified and signaled Betty to stay back. I didn’t want my room-mate to see what was now causing my blood to run cold. “Call the police right away!” I yelled at the Hindu cabbie who had come up behind me, and had turned a petrified white just like I had at the sight inside the backseat of the cab. “Dial 911! DO IT QUICK!”
The cabbie turned away and took out his cellphone and started to call for help. I know I could have done the same on my own cellphone, but I was crying, trembling and trying to keep my own vomit down as I yelled at the apparently unconscious cabdriver sitting in the front seat of Sam and Brooke’s cab.
“HEY YOU! WAKE UP!”
The balding cabbie seemed to stir at the sound of my voice, and put his head up with difficulty, “Huh? What?”
“Where is you other passenger?” I asked the cabbie as I banged on the window beside him.
“What...do you mean?” the disoriented cabbie asked in return.
I know I should have been kinder, but I’m not very good in emergency situations, especially the ones involving a dear friend of mind. “YOU STUPID ASS! THE OTHER PASSENGER YOU PICKED UP! THE BLOND WOMAN!”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the cabbie replied. “I only had one passenger since the church; the pretty brunette in back!”
That couldn’t be! I saw Brooke get into the cab with Sam. Heck, the whole crowd at the church saw Brooke with Sam get into the damn cab! But the cabdriver never changed his story even when the police and fire rescue came.
I stayed back a few feet while the ambulance took the cabdriver away. The cops were all over the place taking pictures and making measurements of the abandoned cab and what was left in the backseat; my precious and beautiful Samantha.Betty was beside me the whole time, and hugged me while the police questioned us about the incident.
I will never forget what I saw in the backseat of the cab, and it will haunt me for the rest of my life; Sam, her eyes and the way she looked.
Sam was found sprawled across the backseat of the cab.
Her face was beyond pale; already a bluish dead color with an expression of pure horror. What scared me most about the sight wasn’t the look of undiluted horror in her staring eyes, or the way her once graceful lips were frozen in an open chasm, but the fact that her once wild, beautifully thick dark hair was now completely white.
But there was no sign of Brooke anywhere; it was as if she had vanished off the face of the earth. That was the one thing that I wanted to find out most of all; where in heaven’s name was Brooke McQueen?
The answer to my questions about Brooke came from one of the police officers on the scene who had called the Boston Police Department to find out about Brooke’s whereabouts and was very quickly informed about her. It seems that at exactly three in the evening, while coming out of her uncle’s house in Boston, Brooke McQueen was run over and killed by a drunk driver, at exactly the precise time she was getting married to Sam McPhereson at St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Cambridge in the presence of dozens of our friends and faculty from Harvard.
“I’m gonna marry Sam no matter what!” Brooke had said to me once, just days before her trip to Boston. “Dead or alive I’m coming for Sammy!”
Brooke and Sam’s parents flew in from California for the double funeral. Both girls, once lovers in life were now laid to rest side by side at the Trinity Memorial Cemetery in Cambridge.
No one will ever know what happened to poor Sam in those last moments of her life in the back of that cab. The cabdriver was diagnosed with severe memory loss of the entire incident by his doctors and has since retired.
Brooke would forever rest in eternal sleep beside her beloved wife Sam whom she had broken all the laws of nature and time to marry because she had always been a woman of utter resolve.
It was after all...Brooke’s wedding.