See if you can catch what Christine says that is bothering Sam. I feel like this is a good place to tag off to Lucy. I was tempted to instead actually have this scene be Lucy sending the text messages to Sam from her perspective while shooting down Christine and Kenny's wacky plans. Then, I realized that those sort of plans are funnier from an outside perspective. Also, if we did it that way, we'd need to sit through the same jokes a second time for Sam to hear them. Which seemed clunky, and unlike every other instance in this writing project where things have been clunky, I went ahead and excised that entire section and just have us have Sam walk in in the middle. I feel this helps the pacing, which is dragging. Table of Contents here, fiction below the link.
* * *
The conversation trailed off as we listened to someone making a speech. Then, my leg tingled. I thought it was a phantom tingling, until it happened again. I took a quick stock of the table, and since Mr. Dawes and the important bank people were unapologetically checking their blackberries, I popped my phone open.
Susan was actually listening to the opening speaker talk about the figures and numbers on donation amounts, taking notes. Maybe she was freelancing an article? Or, maybe, she was just doodling? I don’t know. It is rude to look over people’s shoulders to see what they’re writing, plus women in low cut blouses think you’re trying to look down their shirts, and that just never ends well.
“It’s Lucy. You should come outside.”
Then it buzzed again. “I can see you reading it. Come outside.”
I excused myself and went into the hallway. Lucy, Kenny and Christine were waiting there. Christine seemed to be annoyed, while Kenny was sitting next to the man we’d met at the bar. He was more than just sloshed at this point. He was drunk as a skunk.
“Jon’s too drunk to give a speech,” Lucy said.
“Ok, well,” I was unsure where this was going. “I guess we’ll just have to discretely let someone know.”
“Actually, I kind of already did,” Lucy said. “I said Jon needed a little more time. Christine and I are going to try and sober him up.”
“What do you need Kenny and me for?” I asked. There was a tingling, nagging fear in the back of my head, because I already knew.
“Well,” Christine said, while Lucy examined her shoes and compulsively twisted the rings on her fingers. “You already filled in for Jon once this week. So, we figured, you could do it again.”
“I got paid last time,” I said. “And, I’ve got nothing to say to this group.”
“It can’t be that hard,” Christine said. “Breast cancer is bad, you should give us money to stop this bad thing. Maybe make a joke about how real men wear pink.”
“They do, you know,” Kenny remarked. “Scientifically proven.”
“How long was he going to talk for?”
“About forty minutes,” Lucy said. “Maybe more, maybe less. Look, you just have to stall while I get him back to normal. Shove some coffee down his throat, you know.”
Christine smiled. “I was just going to induce vomiting. Seems faster.”
“The answer isn’t always to induce vomiting, Christine!”
“That’s not what poison control says,” Christine snapped back. “Besides, you said you wanted fast solutions, not clean ones!”
“See Sam,” Kenny said, as he wiped some drool off Jon’s chin. “I told you that clean isn’t implied. Just like legal.”
“Those are both implied!” Lucy said. “Every plan should be clean and legal!”
“Look, clean, legal and fast — you can get two out of the three, but not all three at once,” Christine said. Kenny nodded at her wisdom.
“No. That’s fast, cheap and done right,” I said. “It’s a sort of guide line for projects. You can get two of the three, but not all three at once.”
“Well, making him puke is fast, cheap and will sober him right up, so I don’t see where you’re coming from,” Christine said.
“We’re not doing that,” Lucy said as she propped Jon up under his shoulder while Christine took the other arm.
“I’m telling you Kenny, my man, these two just like to make our lives more difficult,” Christine said. “They need to trust our plans more.”
“I know. She vetoed my plan to just go out there wearing his suit and a mask, claiming that we thought it was a costume party would have worked too,” Kenny said.
“Lucy has something against stripping men naked,” Christine said. “It is one of the many reasons she doesn’t have a boyfriend.”
“I understand your frustration there Lucy, but let me tell you, men have it worse,” Kenny said. “Pants are a lot easier to take off than bras.”
“I’m against stripping on principle!” Lucy said as Jon’s head sort of rolled lackadaisically between the two women. “Stripping is not going to happen! There will be no stripping.”
“This is another reason she doesn’t have a boyfriend.”
I was about to say something else — because I was trying to process what Christine was saying. It didn’t add up, and I wanted to question it more. But, one of the workers for the event tapped my shoulder and asked if I’d be ready in a minute. I said sure, then looked to Kenny with desperation. I hated not having a plan.
“Don’t worry Sam,” Kenny said. “I’ve got a plan.”
I think this made me feel even worse.