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Hot Coffee and Cold Fury
“Well, what do you think?” I giggled, overcome with joy at this moment. I twirled for them, letting them see the whole dress. The strapless white gown tied in the back with an old fashioned corset-like ribbon. It flared slightly at the hips creating a subtle princess effect without being a full blown ball-gown. The feel of the white satin on my skin was, well, magical. The thought of the occasion I would wear this dress to, made me slightly dizzy with emotion. My best friends Trey and Julian were momentarily speechless with awe.
“You’re beautiful,” Trey whispered, still stunned. Time stood still for a moment as we all took it in, the dress having transformed me.
“You look like a goddess,” Julian whispered conspiratorially. And the moment was broken again. We burst out laughing and suddenly I was me again, not a goddess. An attendant came up to ask if we had finished choosing a dress. I told her that I would be taking this one, and I quickly got out of the dress to hand to her. It was quite a feat considering how tight the dress was tied, Julian had to help me.
My friends waited outside while I returned to the dressing room to pull on my jeans and a t-shirt. Once dressed we went to the counter to thank the attendants and pay for the dress.
“You have an appointment in two weeks for a fitting session,” the woman informed me. The wedding was a few weeks after that. The thought sent me spinning again, and we left the boutique with loopy smiles plastered all over our faces.
“Can you believe it Jules? Our little Kate is going to be married!” Trey exclaimed, throwing an arm around Julian. Julian responded with equal enthusiasm, throwing his arm around Trey’s waist.
“It really hasn’t quite sunk in yet! The idea of you being married still seems strange in my head,” Julian marveled, “No offense of course, I always knew you’d find someone. It just seems like we were meant to stay young forever, and now you’re growing up.”
“Aw Jules!” I protested, “I’m still me, the girl with the maturity level of a teenager! Don’t get so sentimental, you make it seem like you’re going to my funeral instead of the happiest day of my life.”
“She’s right,” Trey joked, “Snap out of it man!”
“Plus,” I winked mischievously, “I’ll be going to your wedding soon enough too!”
“What?!” Trey gasped.
“Didn’t you guys see the news this morning? The legislature voted to legalize gay marriage!” I said in amused exasperation.
“That’s, that’s brilliant!” Julian beamed. Trey knelt down in front of Julian and took one of his hands into his own.
“Jules, we’ve been together for four long years. We’ve gone through a lot together and I probably wouldn’t have gotten through some of it without you. You are the most important person in my life, and I love you. Will you marry me?” Trey asked, a joy suffused throughout his face that I’ve never seen before.
Julian didn’t answer but pulled Trey down for a long kiss full on the mouth. I smiled, clapped, and cheered and looked away trying to give them some privacy. The world seemed right today, it was good to see so much happiness. It was starting to get colder on the city streets and I zipped up my jacket more securely. They broke away breathlessly behind me, their faces glowing with bliss. We stood on a street corner waiting for the crosswalk light. The wind blew a little more and Julian shivered slightly, but it didn’t affect his elation.
Trey noticed though and pointed at a Starbucks a few stores down from us, “Hey, anyone fancy some coffee or hot chocolate? It’s getting a little cold.”
“Sure!” Julian and I both agreed enthusiastically. Some hot chocolate would be the perfect end to a perfect day. The line was long so Trey ran ahead to get a spot, but not before kissing Julian again. As he ran ahead, Julian and I walked slowly behind. We stopped and stood smiling at the sidewalk for a moment, it seemed too good to last.
“I’ll finally be able to marry Trey!” Julian whispered, the long suppressed yearning clear in his voice. I wrapped Julian up in a bear hug, joyful at the successful dress hunt and their good news.
“I know Jules, I know! As soon as my wedding is over with, I will definitely help you plan yours, I know exactly what you two like,” I laughed. His arms tightened around my waist and suddenly I was weightless as he swung me in a circle.
“Kate, I’m going to be married!” Julian yelled. I grinned back at him, hardly noticing the older homeless man sitting on the sidewalk slightly ahead of us, watching. He had a jacket wrapped firmly around him, but it was so thin that I wasn’t sure it was doing him any good. A battered cardboard sign sat beside him, messy scrawl explaining he was unemployed and asking for donations. Feeling slightly awkward to be so blatantly joyful when this man was obviously uncomfortable, I took Julian’s hand and directed him back up the street towards the Starbucks so we would pass the homeless man.
Julian saw what I had been looking at and didn’t protest. Still smiling, he rummaged through his pockets looking for his wallet. In a particularly good mood, he pulled out a $20 to give to the homeless man. Equally blissful, I added my own $20 to Julian’s hand. We stopped in front of the man and offered him the money.
To our surprise, the homeless man refused the money. Shaking his head, he just motioned for us to keep going. I looked at Julian, but he looked blankly back at me, clearly at as much of a loss as I was. Julian proffered the money again, but the man only shook his head more vigorously.
“What’s the matter, don’t you want to get some hot food into you?” I inquired confusedly. He shook his head again, almost angry. Julian shrugged and made to move away, but I was stubborn. Something didn’t seem right.
“What’s the problem?” I persisted.
“Don’t want your damn money,” he muttered.
“Excuse me?” I asked in disbelief.
“I said,” he repeated louder, gritting his teeth, “I don’t want your damn money!”
“Kate, we should go,” Julian said, clearly uncomfortable. We were starting to attract glances from passersby.
“And what, may I ask, is wrong with our money?” I demanded, starting to grow angry. Who was this man to ruin our evening by refusing our goodwill?
“I don’t want money touched by a dirty pervert like him,” the homeless man growled and glared up at me. I could feel the shock registering on my face, and Julian stiffening beside me.
“And what about my money,” I asked quietly.
“You’re hanging out with them, you’re probably a dyke too!” the man spit at me, “The whole lot of you faggots disgusts me.” He turned his face away from us. At that moment a voice spoke behind us in cold fury.
“What did you just call my best friend and my fiance?”
Julian and I turned to see Trey stalking angrily towards the man still sitting on the sidewalk, the coffee shook in his hands. He roughly handed the cups to me.
“Trey…” Julian protested weakly. Trey didn’t pay him any notice but proceeded to haul the homeless man up by his collar. The man battered at Trey’s grip ineffectually, a mixture of fear and revulsion on his visage.
“How. DARE. You.” Trey hissed. The man was silent in in the face of Trey’s furious onslaught.
“You think you’re better than us?” Trey demanded in disbelief, “You live on a sidewalk, with nowhere to call home, living off the scraps that others give you out of the goodness of their hearts, and you think that you have the right to harass my fiance?!” His voice had risen to a shout at this point, and he was turning slightly red in the face. I put my hand on Trey’s arm.
“Hey, hey, calm down. He’s not worth your breath,” I said, contempt dripping from my words. A small crowd had gathered around us. On their faces, I saw expressions of outrage. With a thrill of fear, I thought they were directed towards us. But then I saw the the outrage was meant for the homeless man sagging in Trey’s grip. Trey breathed deeply, and slowly loosened his grip. The man slid pathetically down the wall, clearly shaken.
“This, is what I think of your stupid opinion!” Trey fumed. Without any hesitation, he kissed Julian in front of the entire crowd. Julian had tears on his face, from what I couldn’t tell. There was such a range of emotions on Julian’s face I wasn’t sure exactly what he was feeling.
“I love you!” Trey said angrily, “I don’t care what anyone else says or thinks!”
“I know,” Julian finally said, smiling slightly, “I know.” His voice broke. The was soft clapping coming from a young girl to my right. Her expression was one of determination. Clapping continued at my left, and I turned to see a father putting his hands together. Then applause erupted from all around us as the people showed their support of us. This time Julian was the one to initiate the kiss. The applause grew louder and cheering and whistling broke out. The world was right again.