Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Bet - Chapter 44 (Sunday – week 7 Part 7 of 9)

The Bet
by Karen Singer

Chapter 44 (Sunday – week 7 Part 7 of 9)

Their meal came and Chad was pleasantly surprised to see how nice his salad was. He took some mental notes so he could do something like it at home sometime – not that he’d ever probably get to eat it. Baby food seemed to be his most likely dinner from now on.
Several times as he ate, he saw Mel glance and nod toward his glass of iced tea. He again got the message – drink, drink, drink! Ugh! And worse, since he was obviously drinking so much, the waiter kept coming by over and over again to refill his glass. He couldn’t even keep track of how much he was drinking! One thing he could tell though, was that his diapers were getting wetter and wetter. Well, hopefully, three diapers would be more than enough for tonight. Hopefully!
In the middle of their dinner, Mel started trying to make a conscious effort to involve Derek more in the conversation. But Derek’s replies seemed to be very few words and she quickly gave up. But Ray didn’t ever seem to run out of topics to talk about – with her.
They were just finishing dinner when Sissy saw Mel tapping her fingers against her lips again. He pulled his compact out of his purse and checked his face. Most of his face looked perfect, but this time there was no doubt he would have to refresh his lipstick. He had seen the lipstick stains all over his glass of tea and his fork had a fairly prominent showing of it too. He had tried to be careful with his napkin but that too was covered with red lip stains. He pulled the lipstick out and opened it. It wouldn’t have been so bad except that he saw Derek watching him intently. Under Derek’s scrutiny, he added a fresh layer of the bright red lipstick. He couldn’t believe how strange – and humiliated – he felt as he did it. Humiliated enough that he felt himself peeing in response – which only humiliated him even more.
Trying to make it seem totally normal, he finished up and put the lipstick and compact away. He saw Derek shaking his head a bit, then look away. Sissy wondered if he had done something wrong. Had he messed his lips up somehow? He opened his purse and quickly pulled his compact out to recheck his lips. Nope. As far as he could see in the tiny mirror, they looked just fine.
“You’ll have to excuse me,” Mel said to Ray. “But I need to make a quick trip to the ladies room.” She looked straight at Sissy. “Coming?”
Now Chad was more worried about his makeup than ever. He grabbed his purse and got up from the table and followed Mel toward the restrooms. Once inside, Chad didn’t quite know what to do with himself other than to check his face in the mirror. There was no way he was going to be able to use one of the toilets. While Mel went into one of the stalls, he checked his face closely. As far as he could tell, his face looked perfect – well, for what he was anyway.
Mel finally came out of the stall and checked her own face. As she pulled her own lipstick out, she said. “Put another coat of lipstick on.”
Chad was surprised, his lips definitely didn’t need it. “But…”
Mel looked quickly at him. “Don’t argue – just do it!”
Chad once again added another layer of the red lipstick. Then he put everything back in his purse again.
Mel was done with her own face before Chad was done with his. She waited till he was finished. “I want you to start talking more, especially to Derek. You two are so quiet it’s like you’re not even here!”
“But what am I supposed to say?”
“I don’t care. Just talk to him! Be the girl… and keep him happy!” She paused briefly and just looked at him for a moment. “Before we get out of here, I’m going to get Ray to dance with me one more time. Since I doubt that Derek is going to ask you, I want to hear you pleading with him to take you out on the dance floor!”
Chad’s knees almost buckled. “Dance with him?”
Mel just smiled wickedly in return and led the way back out into the restaurant.
When they got back to the table, Sissy noticed that his iced-tea glass was freshly filled once again. A never-ending source of tea – and too much liquid for his system. Talk to Derek? What the heck was he supposed to say? He knew perfectly well how Derek was feeling about this date! “We’re back,” he said cheerily to Derek as he sat down again.
“I noticed,” Derek replied as if he wasn’t very happy about it.
The waiter showed up then to ask if anyone wanted desert.
Ray looked around the table. “There’s still plenty of time before the movies start. How about it?” He looked directly at Mel. “And don’t tell me you don’t cheat on your diet at least once in a while!”
Mel laughed. “Well, maybe.” She was particularly interested because she wanted a reason to keep Sissy in the restaurant for a while longer so he could interact a bit more with Derek. She looked at Sissy. “What do you think?”
Chad was particularly surprised she would ask him – especially since he had only managed to finish half of the dinner he had gotten. Between his smaller compressed stomach and all the liquids in his system, he was lucky to have eaten that much. He smiled though as he replied, “Sounds great!” Actually, it was anything but great. He agreed with Derek. The sooner they got to a nice dark movie theater, the better!
The waiter cast another disapproving look at Sissy, then ignored him as he spoke to everyone else at the table, telling them about all the wonderful deserts they had available.
Mel was particularly interested in one of them but… “I’m not sure I can eat that much,” she complained.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” Ray replied. “Get it, and eat what you can.”
But Mel had a better idea. “Why don’t we get one and share it between the two of us?”
Ray smiled broadly at her. “I really like that idea.” He looked up at the waiter. “We’ll share one.”
The waiter nodded politely and turned to Derek.
“Nothing for me,” Derek told him.
Sissy saw Mel scowl a bit as Derek said it. He also saw her staring intently at him again – as if daring him not to order something. He was supposed to be talking to Derek. But he couldn’t! The waiter was looking at him now, waiting for his answer. The waiter didn’t look like he was smiling as much as he had when he spoke to everyone else. Oh well. Talk to Derek? “Derek,” he started, “why don’t we do the same?”
Derek looked over at him like he was crazy. “You go ahead and get what you want. I don’t want anything.”
Sissy saw Mel still staring intently at him. Then suddenly, he saw her glance her eyes quickly at Derek, then back again. Damn! She wanted him to keep trying. How? “Please?” he pleaded like a little girl to Derek.
Derek looked at him like he was even crazier. “I told you…”
“But… what could it hurt?” Sissy replied before Derek could finish.
Derek shook his head. “Oh, who cares!” He looked up at the waiter. “Bring one for us too. I probably won’t eat any of it though.”
The waiter nodded politely and was gone.
Mel seemed to be all smiles once again. “I saw a couple of deserts being brought out to some of the other tables. There’s no way I could ever eat all that! I think this is going to work out perfectly! Don’t you, Sissy?”
Chad was startled that she would even ask. “Oh… Oh yes. Perfectly!” But he was still more interested in getting out of the restaurant as soon as possible.
The musicians started in on another tune and Mel turned her head toward them. “Oh, I love that song!” She turned to Ray. “Let’s dance again!”
Her request came so fast that it caught Sissy off guard. He wasn’t ready for this! But he saw Mel staring at him as she got up out of her seat. Oh God he didn’t want to do this, but he turned to Derek. “Let’s dance,” he said.
Derek was clearly shocked. “What?”
“Let’s dance too.”
“You are crazy!”
Sissy shrugged. “Maybe… Probably… But so what? Let’s dance.”
“Please!” Sissy pleaded.
Derek was clearly upset. “What the hell has gotten into you? I’m not dancing! At least not with you!”
Mel leaned over and spoke softly. “You’re raising your voice! Why don’t you just take her out and dance one dance, that’s all – before you bring more attention to yourself by arguing and causing a little scene.”
Derek looked up at her angrily. He wanted to yell. He wanted to argue! But, unfortunately she was probably right. He looked around at some of the other tables. A few people were looking at him. He threw his napkin angrily down at the table. “Oh, all right!” he grumbled in a much softer voice. He looked at Sissy. “Come on.”
Now it was Sissy’s turn to be shocked. He didn’t actually think that Derek would give in so quickly. And Derek clearly didn’t want to do this – just as much as he didn’t want to do it. But he got to his feet and “followed” everyone else down toward the dance floor. Fortunately, there were quite a few couples already dancing.
The music wasn’t slow, but it wasn’t fast either. Not fast enough that they could stand away from each other and just move around a bit. Everyone else on the floor seemed to be holding each other as they danced. Sissy had been aware of his super high heels with every step that he took, but the minute they touched the hard wood of the dance floor, he was more aware of them than ever. How was he supposed to do this? He couldn’t! He just couldn’t!
He and Derek just stared at each other for a moment, as if neither of them knew what to do. “Well, you wanted to do this,” Derek said as he held out his hand. Derek clearly wasn’t too pleased about it. Reluctantly, Sissy reached out his hand and allowed Derek to take it. It was his right hand that he had to reach out for Derek to take – the opposite hand he was used to using when he danced with his wife… make that ex-wife. Derek pulled him – a bit – closer… not too close. And they started trying to move to the music together. Derek was obviously trying to lead and Sissy was trying his best to follow, but he really didn’t know how. He felt so awkward and out of place.
The dance floor felt slippery under his super high heels. He had to be more aware than ever of trying to keep his balance. It was particularly hard since he was “supposed” to be moving which ever way Derek led him. He felt clumsy, clumsy, clumsy! And obviously Derek was having a harder time than usual too. “Sorry!” he said softly as he stumbled a bit and recovered his balance.
“Yeah, sure,” Derek replied noncommittally.
“Actually, this wasn’t really my idea,” Sissy told him.
“It wasn’t? You sure seemed to be awfully insistent back at the table.”
“Mel said I had to.”
Derek digested that for a moment. “Do you always do what Mel tells you to do?”
Sissy instantly thought about Robin and what she knew – now. “Usually,” he replied cautiously.
“Humph! Well, I guess she’s doing her best to make a woman out of you, but I think this part could have waited till later. A lot later!”
“I couldn’t agree more,” Sissy replied.
As they danced and talked, what they didn’t see was Ray continually snapping picture after picture with his cell phone. “You better make sure I get some of those,” Mel said to him.
“I’ll be glad to send them to you tomorrow,” Ray agreed.
The song ended and Derek was the first to leave the dance floor. Sissy had trouble keeping up with him in the heels he was wearing.
“You did good together,” Mel said to Derek and Sissy as she sat down at the table again.
“They make such a cute couple. Don’t they?” Ray added as he too sat down.
Derek rolled his eyes angrily, but made no other reply to Ray’s taunting.
Ice cream and brownies covered in chocolate sauce. Two huge bowls of it were delivered to the table, each one with two spoons already sticking out on opposite sides of the bowls. The waiter set one of them between Mel and Ray, and the other one between Derek and Sissy. The deserts looked so good, but Sissy didn’t feel much like eating any of it. He was about to reach for the spoon sticking out straight toward him when he was interrupted.
“Oh! Hey! Wait a minute,” Ray said as he got up from his seat.
Everyone looked up at him, waiting to find out what Ray wanted. Ray pulled out his cell phone. “I want a picture of this so we can all remember it!” It was the first time all night that he had brought out his phone to take a picture where Derek could see it.
“No!” Derek complained flatly, clearly not happy about it. “Don’t do it!”
“Oh come on!” Ray replied as he got the camera in the phone ready and held it up. “Lean in toward the desert a bit more,” he suggested.
“No!” Ray repeated firmly again.
“I’m going to take the picture anyway, so you might as well go along,” Ray told him. “Now lean in!”
Sissy, seeing Mel nod toward him, reluctantly leaned in – slightly – toward the elaborate dessert. Derek refused to move.
“Smile…” Ray prodded.
Derek’s jaw dropped wide open. “You can’t be serious!”
But Ray wasted no more time and snapped the picture.
“Can’t we just get out of here now?” Derek asked as Ray was sitting down.
“Why?” Ray replied. “We’ve still got plenty of time.” He happily picked up the spoon nearest him from his dessert and dug in. “Mmmm. So good!” he said.
Derek tried one bite of the dessert before sitting back and sulking about everything. Sissy ate a bit more, but not much. Ray and Mel on the other hand, ate a good bit of their dessert before Mel declared she couldn’t possibly eat another bite.
The waiter reappeared and asked if everything was going to be on one bill or separate. “The lady here and I are on one,” Ray replied.
Sissy was about to say that he would get his own, but Derek spoke up first. “I’ve got for us,” he said.
“Are you sure?” Sissy asked him. “I can pay for mine if you want.”
Derek shook his head. “No, you’re my date tonight. I’ve got it.”
“Thanks,” Sissy replied softly. He sat back and thought about it. He was the girl tonight, and even though it was only a little thing, Derek picking up the tab made him realize that fact all the more. How strange. And then he saw Mel giving him the signal to check his face again. Another layer of red lipstick had to be applied.

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