Bethany Barefoot

by Tara Alton

I hated weddings. Nothing good for me has ever come of them. For example, the last wedding I went to, I ended up alone at a table with my great-aunt while all the couples swooned about on the dance floor. Their closely pressed bodies seemed to be saying aren’t we the lucky ones as the white paper streamers delicately fluttered on the ceiling.

Meanwhile, my great-aunt was going on about some freaking tea party she claimed she had for me in Florida when I was four years old. I don’t remember Florida. I don’t remember her, except for meeting her in the receiving line two hours ago. What did I get from attending this blissful event? A paper cut from my place card, a cranky buzz from cheap champagne and a regretful comment I slurred to my great-aunt at the end of the night.

“I won’t be you,” I called out in her direction. I didn’t know what that meant, because I hardly knew her. I think it was directed more at what she represented, an old crone sitting alone at a wedding banquet table with her odd great-niece.

I would rather do these things instead of going to a wedding. Get a tetanus shot, which always gives me a huge bruise because I tense up. Go for a gynecology exam, with a student doctor in tow, who would do a second far more clumsy and embarrassing exam than the original doctor would. Finally, clean up cat puke.

I know you’re asking why all the fuss. It’s because I have to go to my sister’s wedding. Actually, it’s her second time around, but she still wants all the drama and fuss because she likes to show off how clever and stylish she is. She was so taken with her first wedding that she actually wrote and self published a How to be a Bride book. She tried to sell it in the back of bridal magazines and lost thousands of dollars in advertising. Not one order came in. Occasionally, she threatens to dust it off and send it to a real publisher, but she never has the time, not with her new budding career as a newscaster.

I’ve been in such denial about this wedding that I’ve made myself late. I’ve missed the wedding ceremony, and now I’m struck rigid with fear in the reception hall parking lot. Things are not looking good. I bought her a crappy, last minute, hastily wrapped gift. It was a silver frame from a greeting card store that anyone off the street could buy. What makes this worse is that I’ve agreed to live with her and her new husband for a few weeks until I can get on my feet.

In addition, I have a confession to make. The other reason I’m late is because of a self-inflicted finger fuck. I got all excited writing porn. I know I should say erotica or even better literary erotica, but this was the down and dirty. I wrote about butt cheeks and short hairs bobbing all over the page until I had to do something about it. I mean, why not. This could be the last time I get off before moving in with my sister.

If my sister truly comprehended what I wrote about, she would have a massive shit. Once upon a time, I did hint about my choice of subject matter, but she didn’t get it.

“What is there to write about?” she asked. There are only a couple positions.”

I felt sorry for her last husband and her new one if that was her way of thinking. Wanting to avoid any further elaboration about my writing career, I told her I write literary stories and submit them to publications with names like Coffee and Mudhouse.

Meanwhile, I’m working on collecting writing credits as Bethany Barefoot in magazines who use body parts for names. I would like some non-body part credits, but I haven’t been accepted yet in any high crust anthologies with intelligent themes. If only something nice would happen to me and put my raunchy imagination to sleep for a while. Have you ever fantasized about something for so long that you wore it out, and now you had to add something new every time to get some zing? Well, I’ve been adding too much for too long.

How was anything nice going to happen to me while I sat in my car wearing a cut off, floral print bridesmaid dress? I couldn’t wear my black sexy dress because I discovered an hour before I was supposed to leave that it had become a litter box in the back of my ex roommate’s closet.

Forcing myself out of my car, I grabbed my sister’s present and headed for the entrance.

Leave it to my sister to book the trendiest, upscale chapel with a banquet hall attached. I felt my knees almost knocking together with nerves as I noticed the glimmering lights on potted trees and elaborate bows on white chair covers through the windows. I didn’t see any Jordan Almonds or after dinner mints nestled in little white paper cups, which was a shame because I liked after dinner mints.

I prayed everyone was already soused enough not to notice me slipping in. I stood in the doorway, trapped by fear. I didn’t recognize anybody. Was I at the wrong place? Did I get the date wrong? For a second, I was giddy with relief, but then I noticed the bride’s table was curiously empty. Oh god. The receiving line had started, and there was my sister.

Slinking over to the gift table, I squeezed my present onto the edge, thinking I should have rethought the wrapping. Although I had managed to buy a gift and a card, I hadn’t remembered to buy wrapping paper. Therefore, I had dug out bright green parrot paper from a drawer at home. Now, the present screamed its jungle theme from the bland sea of cream and beige.

My nerves were so bad that I grabbed a glass of champagne from a nearby table, received a dirty look from its owner, and gratefully inhaled half of it. The bubbles went straight up my nose. It burned. Blinking back the tears, I considered a hasty retreat to the bathroom, thinking I could avoid the receiving line from hell all together, but I had to do this. I was moving in with her tomorrow. Where was all this dread coming from anyway? I loved her for Pete’s sake. She was my sister. I just wasn’t convinced how much I liked her.

Chugging down the rest of the champagne, I put down the glass, plastered a smile on my face and got in line.

“Bride’s sister,” I said, with a firm handshake to the first person.

The parent spot for us was empty. Our mom was locked away in a nut house. Our dad was dead.

I was getting dangerously near the bridesmaids. Who were these girls? I recognized Crystal, the weather girl from Lisa’s station. She was wearing her plastic TV smile, and she looked at me as if I was a freak.

“So what is the forecast for today?” I asked, thinking it would be an icebreaker.

She gave me a murderous look. Jeez. Couldn’t she take a joke? Why was my sister even friends with her? She seemed like such a fake person, and yet she was the one standing next to my sibling.

I looked away. I was a stranger here. I should go. I should leave.

“There you are,” said Lisa.

In my panic, I had let the line propel me forward.

Lisa hugged me.

“You look incredible,” I said, staring amazed at her manufactured cleavage. She was too squeamish to get fake boobs so it had to be a push up bra.

“You should have come earlier,” she said in my ear. “I had a corsage for you.”

Our gazes met. I saw the crazy look in her eyes that mom used to have. We called it Mom’s crazy fish eye. Why had I been kidding myself? The shrill Lisa who could hold a grudge for months was still alive and well.

I had been so wrapped up in Lisa that I hadn’t even noticed the groom. I was shocked. I had expected another version of henpecked Simon, and I vaguely remembered Lisa saying he was a construction foreman, but I never imagined this. This guy was oozing masculinity with his intense, smoldering eyes and fantastic build.

“Jeremy, this is my sister,” Lisa said.

Lisa went on to embrace the next person, leaving us facing each other.

I stuck out my hand. He took it, pulled me forward and planted one on my mouth, dead on. I felt a spark, a little firecracker of zing between us. I saw the surprise in his eyes.

As I finished the rest of the line, I barely registered the other introductions. The groom had flummoxed me. I kept glancing at him. He kept watching me.

Free at last, I headed to the bar where I asked for two glasses of champagne.

“No. Make it three,” I said.

The waiter looked as if he didn’t want to give it to me.

“I’m the bride’s sister,” I said.

With my three glasses in an awkward hold, I replaced the one I had stolen and went to find my table. I started looking near the front where I would assume Lisa would put her family. Maybe I would be sitting with her in-laws. Amazingly, I didn’t find my name. Still searching, I reached the rear of the room where I found it. I was seated at the last table near the restroom with my cousins. I was at the reject table. I knew this because I had helped her plan her first seating arrangement, and that was what she called it. Trying to conceal my disappointment, I smiled at the people who loosely called themselves my relatives.

“How is everyone?” I asked. “Where are the kids?”

“It’s a kid-free reception,” said my cousin Helen.

“Are you kidding?”

Helen nodded. I glanced around. I hadn’t even noticed my nephews were missing.

They started to serve dinner. The choices were chicken breast or a T-bone steak. Everyone had a plate but me. Finally, a lone dish came trailing out. It was cold pasta with sun-dried tomatoes. Lisa had remembered my fear of bones. I hadn’t eaten meat since I cut the top of my middle finger off when I was twelve. Now every time I saw a bone I felt sick.

If the pasta had been served when it was made a week ago, I might have managed to choke it down, but it was inedible. I arranged my tomatoes in the middle with the dry lifeless noodles around them. A waiter stopped in front of me to take my plate. He saw what I’d done.

“I’m artistic,” I said.

He whisked it away.

I was starving, and I was buzzed from the second glass of champagne. A little thought danced in the back of my head. What had Lisa said about a desert? She had chosen a lovely mousse. Of course, it had to be chocolate. They brought it out. Why was my chocolate mousse pink? It was strawberry. It was like ordering a diet cola and getting a fully leaded one. I couldn’t eat it.

Nibbling on the vanilla wafer on top, I watched my sister. She was having the time of her life, and I needed a cigarette like a vampire needed blood.

Excusing myself, I found a side door near the kitchen. The fresh air was liberating, and the familiar click of my lighter was like a kitten getting its mother’s milk. I inhaled deeply and looked around. There was another waiter having a cigarette like me. I thought he wasn’t bad looking in a swarthy, Greek sort of way. I liked the cut of his crisp white cotton shirt and the sleekness of his black pants.

“I bet you’re having a better time than I am,” I said.

He smiled and came over to me.

“You must be having an awful time if that is true,” he said.

I paused, thinking about it.

“It is true. I’m having an awful time.”

“Why don’t you go home?” he asked.

I laughed.

“Easier said than done,” I said. “Have you ever been at a family event where you feel lonelier than you do alone?”

He shook his head.

“Your family seems nice,” he said.

“So, it seems. The photo op bride is my sister. I’m the proverbial bad seed, who writes smut and has to go live with her because I can’t support myself.”

I looked closer at him.

“I should be a waiter,” I said. “Because I’m always waiting for something to happen.”

“You write smut?”

“You were listening,” I said.

“Why wouldn’t I?” he asked.

“Because I’m a slightly drunk guest prattling on about her personal problems,” I said.

There was a pause. It didn’t feel like a bad one, just interesting.

“You are easy to talk to,” I said.

“The smut?” he asked.

“I write for one hand glossy whack off mags. You know the kind you get in party stores behind the counter. Are you shocked?”

I looked into his eyes to see the surprise. I didn’t see any.

“No,” he said. “Someone has to write them. Why not someone as pretty and sexy as you?”

“You think I’m sexy,” I said.

I looked him up and down, feeling frisky.

“Are you on break?” I asked.

I guess I was horny, because one moment we were standing there, innocently smoking our cigarettes, and the next moment, we were behind the building, doing it in the shrubs. We were standing up like a couple of horny kids, who couldn’t keep their hands off each other. I came so loudly that he had to clap his hand over my mouth to keep me from being heard.

As we straightened our clothes, I gave him a sly smile.

“I’ve had a one night stand before, but I wasn’t actually standing,” I said.

He smiled back and gave me his phone number. His name was Dominic.

Feeling flushed and happy, I turned. I should go before anything ruined this mood.

I found my sister in a cluster of bridesmaids. Jeremy was standing nearby with two glasses of champagne.

“I’m here to tell Lisa I’m leaving,” I said to him.

He looked at me.

“You have the most amazing glow,” he said.

“I just had sex with a waiter outside,” I blurted out.

Shock paralyzed his face. Oops. Had I actually said that? I panicked.

“Don’t tell Lisa,” I said.

Without saying good-bye to her, I left the hall. I felt weird, appalled and tramp like. It was amazing what three glasses of champagne and a lack of food could do to my reasoning. I needed food soon.

On the way to the hotel, I stopped at a grimy little grocery store, the kind Lisa would hate on sight, and I bought bananas, peanut butter and sprinkles. She had made me a reservation for the night at a motel, the kind that felt like a prison cell inside. Hardly any cars were there. I grabbed a box of my clothes and checked in.

I decided to take a bath, because I didn’t have the energy to stand in the shower. Normally, I hated baths, especially shaving in them. There was something about those little hairs floating in the water. It gave me the creeps, but tonight, I soaked, eating my bananas dunked in the peanut butter and topped with sprinkles.

In the morning, I woke to find myself sprawled naked on the bed with a huge stomachache, no doubt from the bananas. My head was pounding. I touched my scalp, realizing my hair had dried weirdly as well. Rolling over to see what time it was, I noticed the front curtain of the motel room was partway open. Who knew who had been standing out there, getting a glimpse of my bare ass!

I tugged on a robe and looked outside to see if there was any incriminating evidence on the brick wall. Only a porn writer would even think of this. Jeez. This would make a good story.

Finding a scrap of paper inside my room, I started scribbling about a luscious brunette in a motel room with an open curtain and a lust-filled admirer. Wait a minute. I was writing trash again. Hadn’t I said if something nice happened to me I could write better things. Something had happened. I had met Dominic. Had it been a good thing though? It was certainly sexy and tawdry.

I needed coffee, like a gallon of it. On my way to Lisa’s, I stopped at a donut shop. It was mostly filled with regulars, old men who were smoking, reading the paper and staring at the walls. I wanted to tell them that I had sex with a Greek waiter last night, but I decided not to. My gaze fell on the donut counter. A glistening chocolate donut with sprinkles gazed back at me. Ugh. I thought, remembering the bananas, but it wasn’t their fault. The sprinkles, I meant. I couldn’t hold it against them.

With the coffee and the donut, I left.

I was wired by the time I got to Lisa’s house. The donut had given me a high, glossy, sweet buzz, and the caffeine was challenging the sluggishness in my veins with an ultra kick.

Lisa had one of those houses that made you wonder who could afford to live there. I had heard tales of house poor people. They were home owners, had a nice house, but they didn’t have enough money to furnish all the rooms. They never went out to dinner or the movies either. They didn’t do anything, but sit in their big, but poorly furnished house. I could tell Lisa didn’t fit in this category. She had cement lions on her front porch.

One of my nephews answered the front door. He’d grown. I couldn’t remember when I’d seen him last. He looked at me as if he had never seen me before. Kids always knew I didn’t have the mom gene. I had no idea what to say to them.

“Can I see Lisa?” I asked.

Lisa came and got me. You would have never thought she got married last night. Her hair and makeup were perfect. Even her casual clothes were pressed. Her sparkling two-carat diamond ring was the only giveaway.

“I was worried about coming too early,’ I said. It was eleven a.m.

“I’ve been up for hours. Someone had too much to drink last night,” she said.

Me, I thought, but I realized she meant Jeremy.

“How was the hotel?” she asked.

“Fine,” I said.

“You should have stayed longer.”

“I had cramps.”

“Jeremy liked you,” she said.

My heart fluttered. The waiter thing. Had he said anything? Apparently not or Lisa wouldn’t be this relaxed.

“Your house is amazing,” I said, changing the topic.

There was a big pause. This one was bad. Neither of us knew what to say next.

“Why did you seat me at the reject table?” I demanded.

“Is that why you left so early?”

“I had cramps.”

“I didn’t intentionally put you back there. Besides, I thought you’d want to see our cousins.”

I nodded. Seeing them more than once every ten years was more than enough.

“Why the kid free thing?” I asked.

“The network executives were invited. I wanted it to be an adult party.”

Jeremy came into the room. Oh, baby. He was only wearing pajamas bottoms. I inventoried his six-pack abs, great arms and shoulders, tousled hair and sexy stubble in two seconds flat.

“Look who just woke up,” Lisa said. “You could have worn a robe or something.”

“I’m sure your sister has seen a man’s chest before,” he said and looked at me.

“Morning Madison,” he said.

“It’s Maddy. No one calls me Madison but Lisa.”

How could my sister have even gotten out of bed with him? I would be bending him like a pretzel and licking the salt off the good parts.

“Don’t you think the waiters at the hall did a good job last night?” he asked.

I glared at him.

“Marvelous,” I said.

“Very attentive,” he said.

“Yes.”

“Why are we talking about the waiters?” Lisa asked.

Jeremy shrugged.

There was a knock at the door.

“Who could that be?” Lisa asked.

“Probably the man about the Jacuzzi,” Jeremy said.

He went to answer it. I was relieved. Please no more bloody talk about waiters, I thought. Lisa offered me a cup of coffee. I accepted. Men’s voices filled the foyer. When I turned to see who he was bringing into the kitchen, my jaw dropped.

There stood Dominic, the sexy waiter from last night. He was looking as surprised to see me as I was to see him. Without his waiter clothes, he didn’t look half as sexy as Jeremy did. I tried not to remember him pounding into me up against the wall, my dress pushed up to my hips, my foot cramping from holding it in the air. What was he doing here?

“Madison, have you met Dominic?” Lisa asked. “He is Jeremy’s best friend, and he was one of the groomsmen last night.”

I was rendered mute from fear. Lisa didn’t notice.

“Now we’ve got his wedding to do,” she said. “He’s marrying Crystal, the weather forecaster from my station.”

I raised an eyebrow. Not the horrible weather girl in the receiving line. I felt sick. I’d screwed a groomsman and a weather girl’s fiancé. This was becoming a nightmare. How could I escape?

“Mom,” one of Lisa’s kids called out.

“We’re in the kitchen,” she replied.

The one who answered the door wandered in. He was carrying a piece of paper.

‘What’s anallingus?” he asked.

“What?” Lisa screeched.

She snatched the piece of paper from his hand. In horror, I realized it was the piece of paper I had scribbled on about the brunette at the motel. It must have fallen out of my car.

Lisa’s face turned an odd color as she scanned the offensive piece of paper. Jeremy looked over his shoulder, his face amused in comparison.

“Oh my god. Where did this come from?” she asked in a high pitch voice.

“It was on the ground. Between Dominic’s and the lady’s car,” her son said.

I’m your aunt, you half wit, I wanted to say.

“Get out here. Go to your room. Take your brother. Now!” she cried.

He fled, screaming his brother’s name.

“Horrible. Perverted. Disgusting,” Lisa said, her voice trembling as badly as her hands. “My child will never be the same.”

She took a huge swig of black coffee.

“Where did this come from?” she asked.

“The wind may have blown it in the driveway,” Jeremy offered.

Lisa looked at him as if he was crazy.

“It’s mine,” Dominic said.

I stared at him in shock.

“What? Why?” Lisa asked.

“I’m writing pornography for extra money for the wedding,” he said.

“Does Crystal know?” Lisa asked.

She grabbed a cell phone and hit speed dial. As much as I disliked Crystal, I couldn’t let Dominic break up his engagement. If Crystal was as half as uptight as Lisa, she would implode. Sure the entertainment value was high, and I really didn’t like her, and I was appalled that he would be with her, but I couldn’t let this happen.

“It’s mine,” I said. “Dominic was lying to protect me.”

Lisa steadied herself on the kitchen counter.

“How does he know this?” Lisa asked.

“Last night, we spoke.”

“Why would you tell him something like this?’ Lisa asked.

“I thought he was a waiter.”

“You’re the waiter?” Jeremy asked. “Madison told me she had sex with a waiter, but it was you.”

“You screwed him at my wedding!” Lisa shrieked.

Dominic covered his face with his hands.

“Thanks, Jeremy,” I said.

‘No problem,” he said. I could have sworn he looked pleased with himself.

“And you wrote this?” she shrilled.

Looking at my sister, who was ready to have a stroke over a casual screw and a not even truly perverted piece of porn, I realized this was a moment of truth. The self I was presenting to her and the self who I really was could no longer exist together any longer. One of them had to go.

“Yes, I wrote it. I’m a pornographer. I sleep around with men indiscriminately,” I said. “Dominic and I hooked up outside the hall last night.”

Suddenly, there was screaming from the cell phone. Crystal had to be on the other end. The phone seemed to vibrate with her cries. Lisa handed it to Dominic. He slunk off with it.

I looked back at Lisa. I saw it in her eyes, the good old crazy Lisa who would hold a grudge for years. This could go on for a lifetime though, never to be forgotten, but not today.

Without warning, she lunged for me. Suddenly, we were back in our room as kids. Fur flying. Screaming. Slapping. Crying. Kicking. Yanking. Shoving.

Jeremy tried to separate us. His hands were like warm, blurry buzzes on my skin. I did the only thing I could think of to get Lisa off me. I had done it several times before when she had got like this. You would have thought she’d learned by now. I kneed her in the crotch.

I heard her breath suck in. She let of me, staggered by the pain of my kneecap on her pubic bone.

Taking a huge breath of air myself, I hurried from the house, my body hurting in several places, as well as my brain. I was hot and dizzy, staggering with the exertion of the fight. Not until I was in my car could I even breathe or think straight. Then one thing occurred to me like a cold hand on back of my flushed neck.

My story. I wanted it back.

Determinedly, I stomped back to the door. I knocked. Looking as if she had been in a Royal Rumble, Lisa answered the door.

“My story. I need it back,” I said.

From behind her back, she held it up and tore it up before I could grab it back. The pieces fluttered to the foyer floor. A guttural cry escaped my throat. She slammed the door in my face.

“How very mature,” I called out.

For a moment, I considered knocking over her lion statues, but I would be stooping to her level. Instead, I got back in my car and found another piece of paper. She couldn’t take my story away. It was still in my head. Furiously writing, I tried to get the down major points when I

heard a knock on the passenger side window. I steeled my nerves, thinking it was Lisa coming back for another round.

I looked up. It wasn’t her, nor was it Dominic. It was Jeremy. He had the pieces of my story and a roll of tape. He was still wearing no shirt. I let him in my car.

“I thought you might like this,” he said.

“Thank you,” I said.

I took the pieces from him.

He sighed and closed his eyes. It seemed as if a huge tension drained from his body, and he looked so vulnerable. Tearing my gaze away from him, I matched up the first pieces of my torn story.

“She can be appalling,” he said. “I can’t imagine why I married her.”

My throat felt tight. Should he be telling me this? He was her husband.

“Why did you then?” I asked.

“I was so flattered that she liked me, and then this momentum took over everything,” he said. “I woke up this morning and realized I was married to someone I didn’t even love.”

He opened his eyes and gazed at me.

“It’s like a nightmare,” he said.

Amazingly, Lisa had ripped the word anallingus directly in half.

“That’s why you aren’t close with her, because of who she is,” he said.

I nodded. Another section of my story came together. My brunette had her full figure and sexy legs back thanks to the tape.

“That is quite the story,” he said.

“Thank you.”

He turned sideways so he could look at me better. Why did he have to be so damn sexy?

“Did you feel something last night when I kissed you?” he asked.

I froze. I couldn’t believe he was asking me this. Would it be so awful to admit it? Suddenly taping my story together didn’t feel important. The car was suddenly stifling. He was so close. Despite my better judgment, I nodded.

‘I would rather get to know a pornographer than stay in this newscaster, psycho Lisa world,” he said.

“Feeling something in a receiving line kiss does not a relationship make,” I countered.

“I have kissed Lisa a hundred times, and I have not felt anything even close to what I felt last night when I kissed you,” he said. “When you said you had sex with that waiter, I wanted to go beat the crap out of him.”

“Really?” I asked, flattered.

I heard a door slam. Lisa was standing on the porch, glaring at us. She was holding my parrot paper wrapped frame from the card shop. It was another nail in my coffin. Now her husband was in my car. Did I dare?

“Do you want to go get some donuts with sprinkles?” I asked him.

His answer was his kiss. He planted one full on my mouth. Our tongues touched. The fireworks returned, sending a searing flame through my body and setting my panties on fire. I felt my story slip away to the floor. Something hit the windshield. I knew it was the frame, but I kissed him back with all my soul. A new story leapt into my brain, with flowers and orchards and star-crossed lovers caressing each other in the moonlight, birds chirping.

_______________

Tara Alton's erotica has appeared in The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, Best Women's Erotica, Guilty Pleasures, Clean Sheets and Scarlet Letters. She lives in the Midwest, collects tattoos, worships Bettie Page and writes erotica, because that is what is in her head, and it needs to come out. Her website can be found at http://www.taraalton.com.

Bethany Barefoot
© 2006 by Tara Alton

 

 
     
     

 

 



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