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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Ranger - 3. The Party

March 2022

 

“Yo! Legless!” CJ shouted, waving until Brad noticed.

The star of A Home for Warriors had gone in search of a restroom twenty minutes before and was just now looking for his people. The room was extremely crowded, and Brad methodically scanned the occupants. He had no idea where his group was until CJ called out.

“That’s disgusting!” The short, dark-skinned woman wearing an emerald sari gave CJ a look lesser men would have run from. “How dare you disrespect a true American hero? Didn’t you hear him speak? He lost his legs defending our country. You should be ashamed of yourself for calling him legless.”

Brad overheard the comment and spoke before CJ could utter a word in his defense. “Hey, fag. Sorry it took me so long.” The complaining woman shuddered when he used the derogatory slang. Screw the bitch, Brad thought. She appeared flummoxed. Served her right to be shocked for jumping to conclusions without knowing the history between the two men. “Man, you’re not gonna believe who I took selfies with. And half the time it was them who approached me! I was too damn starstruck at the beginning to ask anyone. Until my namesake introduced me to a couple of people.” Brad referred to Bradley Cooper who CJ had ensured met the rest of the group before walking the red carpet. Both were Georgetown University graduates and had struck a friendship years before.

While rattling on, Brad shifted his gaze between his friend and the woman who had chastised CJ. They were all in line to have their statuettes engraved; while she obviously recognized Brad, she apparently did not recall CJ had stood behind him as one of the documentary’s producers. Brad had no idea who she was or what she had won for. He had been too nervous to pay attention before his name was called, and too excited afterward to recall much of anything once he was handed his trophy.

“Where’s everyone else?” He once again slowly moved his head, appraising the revelers. The systematic approach was something he had picked up in the Army. Close friends asked about it at one point, and Brad explained it was part of the training when entering new territory. You never knew where a sniper would be hiding.

“Getting Champagne. I volunteered to hold our spot.”

The intruding woman had remained quiet following Brad’s arrival, but her sight never left the two tall men, and her expression showed disgust. She narrowed her eyes, scrunched her nose, and the corners of her mouth dropped. When Brad noticed, he acknowledged her by jerking his chin upward and using the most dime store hood accent he could muster. “’Sup?”

The newfound horror on the woman’s face made Brad bust up. Rich laughter enveloped them as he grasped CJ’s shoulder.

“Bro, never mind her,” CJ stage whispered. “I think she’s with the political correctness police. You heard her complain when I called you Legless.”

“For real?” Brad’s apparent incredulity proved the man was acting. The redhead played dumb to wind the woman up some more; CJ was clearly game based on his grin.

“Dude!” Brad stared at her. “You really need to take a couple of breaths and think before you talk. Stop being so damn PC. That’s my brother from another mother. After saving my ass more than once, he can call me whatever the fuck he wants.”

“Don’t exaggerate, Red.” CJ apparently felt the interloper was now irrelevant; he focused his attention on his friend. “I never really saved you from anything. All I did was nudge a bit.”

“With a two-by-four to the side of the head.” Their friendship was as solid as any within The Squad, but Brad had a weakness when it came to CJthe man could get away with things he would not allow anyone else. He had once told Owen he hated how CJ always made sense while berating him. CJ had looked smug until the throw pillow hit him.

“Here you go, guys.” Owen handed one of the flutes to CJ while Anne did the same with Brad.

 

 

Brad, his fathers, and CJ’s dads had flown from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles early in the week. Anne and her husband had arrived the same day from New York City. The contingent from the nation’s capital, along with CJ and Owen, were staying at the old Davenport Family home in Malibu. The one they had sold years before and subsequently reacquired when the purchaser nearly defaulted on the mortgage. The New York couple was at a hotel.

While Brad and Anne made the rounds of pre-awards-show luncheons and interviews, Brett, César, JP, and Tom played tourist and spent time on the beach. Their first day in California, while Brad and Anne were occupied, and Brett and JP surfed, César and Tom went shopping. CJ and Owen arrived from Mexico City on Friday to find a brand new baby crib in the bedroom they would share with their daughter, Liebe. Through a reputable firm, César also hired a babysitter to watch over his granddaughter while the adults attended the Academy Awards.

 

 

Anne had exhibited an affinity for touching people she spoke with during the filming and post-production. She now grasped CJ by the biceps. “I still can’t believe we’re at the Vanity Fair party. How did you wrangle invitations, CJ? This is usually for the A-list crowd.”

“That’s us! The cream of the crop.” CJ blew on his fingernails before buffing them on his tuxedo’s lapel while Owen and Brad rolled their eyes. “You can thank Jennifer Lopez for it.” After nominations were announced, CJ reached out to Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, and Lopez for guidance as to what to do. JLo arranged for the A Home for Warriors group to be invited to the party.

“How do you know her?”

Before CJ could reply, Brad chimed in. “CJ knows everybody!”

“You’re still an asshole, Bradley.” The insult elicited grins from his companions and a headshake from the same woman who had questioned his calling Brad Legless.

“I met her when I was a kid, right after I moved to DC to live with my dads. They took me to a banquet where she was honored. I made a fool of myself by whistling loudly when she asked where her fellow Hispanics were, but I ended up dancing with her later in the evening.”

Brad could not resist. “If he was a salesman, CJ would be selling ice to Eskimos. Not sure why, but he seems to charm the fuck out of everyone he meets.”

“Yep, I was right.” CJ nodded vigorously. “You’re still an ass.”

“My charming husband does have a way with people.” Owen draped an arm around CJ’s shoulders and drew him into his body. “And he usually controls his potty mouth in public, but Brad needles him enough CJ sometimes forgets himself. Anyway, I never met Ms. Lopez until tonight, but we did invite her to our wedding.”

“She didn’t show up.” Brad smiled, recalling the event. “But she did send a congratulatory video they played at the reception. Of course, the fact there were other entertainers, a bunch of politicians, a few famous athletes, and two former Presidents at the event may have somewhat blunted the effect of the greeting.”

“Asshole! Stop trying to impress us with big words.”

 

 

“Who’s the dude talking to our dads?” The day before the Oscars, Brad sat on a plastic Adirondack chair on the sand strip behind the house. CJ occupied the one next to him. Brett and JP surfed while Owen and Liebe kicked a ball by the shoreline.

CJ lowered his sunglasses and turned around. Tom and César had remained by the pool and were now talking to a good looking guy with a dazzling smile. “That’s Miles.”

When CJ resumed his previous position with sunglasses on his hair and eyes closed, Brad reached over and slapped his forearm. “Don’t be a dick. Who the fuck’s Miles?”

The grin on his friend’s face made Brad smile also. The two had been together for less than a day, and things were back to normal. They were once again acting like fifteen-year-olds. “Miles Abramonov’s an attorney in the LA office of Ethan’s firm.” Ethan Feldman was one of their fellow Squad members, and an attorney living in New York City. “He’s the one who handled everything concerning the documentary. And I guess he’s the dads’ West Coast lawyer now.”

“Shit, I keep forgetting there were people involved in the background I never met.” Brad peeked at the three men again. While Miles wore khakis and a button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up, César and Tom had earlier stripped off their shirts and wore only shorts. Tan, well-built, with sparkling salt-and-pepper hair, the attorney looked like what Brad imagined central casting would send out to play a lawyer.

César, Tom, and Miles sat at a table on the limestone deck between the pool and the sandy beach. “Have you noticed our old men are getting dad bods?”

Brad had lost a lot of weight immediately after his ordeal began, gained a ton during his initial recovery period, and had slimmed down significantly since moving to Heroes Haven. He was not in as good shape as when he had been a lacrosse playerleading School Without Walls High School to a district championship his senior year. There was more hard work left to do in the gym and on the track.

“Yeah, I’ve been giving César and Brett shit about it.” CJ took his own peek at the men. “Tell you what, Red. I’ll be happy if we look as good as our dads when we get to be their age.”

Brad had to control his urge to laugh or make a snarky remark when CJ ran a finger through his abdominal ridges, a clearly unconscious reaction to the conversation.

CJ’s pause was long enough to sip from his beer. “Oh, and about people working on the documentary in the background? There were a hell of a lot more of them behind the scenes than in front of the cameras.”

“What’s the lawyer doing here today?”

“Dad said something about reviewing the contract with the distribution company. Miles suspects they may not have been entirely up-front about some of the numbers.”

“Money?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you guys going to make a profit out of this?”

“I think so.” CJ sat up when Liebe squealed. Owen had picked her up, and he and the girl were headed in their direction. “You know most of the funding came from the family foundation. Ozzie and I put up a tiny amount in comparison. Dad says we’ll recoup our investment and should clear a small return. The foundation will contribute their share to Heroes Haven.”

“Ceej, agua es fria.” Liebe crawled up on CJ’s lap when Owen placed her on the ground.

El agua esta fria, Liebe.” Correcting his daughter’s grammar in both English and Spanish appeared to be second nature.

Owen took one of the other chairs and tossed CJ a beach towel. “A wave caught up with us. That’s why she squealed.”

“It’s all good, Liebe. I’ll warm you up.” CJ used the towel to wipe sand and water off his daughter’s feet before wrapping it around her and holding her close.

Brad had never given much thought to being a father until Liebe Abelló was born. Having kids was an abstract thought, something that would happen when he was older. CJ and Owen becoming parents in their early twenties made him rethink timing. He was surprised at how much he enjoyed being around the little girl. “She speaks Spanish to you and you answer in English?”

“We use Spanish too, but that’s what she hears all day long from her nanny. We want her to be fluent in both.” Owen reached into the soft-sided cooler they had carried outside and retrieved a sippy cup. “¿Liebe, quieres jugo de guayaba?”

Brad gave his friends a questioning look. “Wayaba?”

“Guava. We first gave it to her when we took her to Australia. It’s her favorite juice now.” Liebe confirmed her father’s statement by greedily taking the plastic cup and slurping its contents down.

 

 

“Jen wants to know what you guys are doing after this shindig.” Three inches over six feet, baseball legend Alex Rodriguez matched Tom Kennedy’s height and stood an inch above Brad. When Jennifer Lopez’s other half draped his arms around the father and son duo, the other men could not stop grinning.

“Wait! I didn’t want to be obnoxious before, but I have to take a picture of the three of you.” JP took a couple of steps back and raised his phone. “Nobody’s gonna believe me otherwise.”

“Believe what?” Rodriguez asked.

“That my husband and son, both diehard Boston Red Sox fans, are smiling while hanging out with a New York Yankee. I’m surprised the ground hasn’t opened up and swallowed them.” The legendary rivalry between the two American League teams spanned over a hundred years and was still going strong in the twenty-first century.

“Are you a Sox fan too?” The retired baseball player winked at JP.

“Nah, mate. I grew up in Australia rooting for Newcastle. The Knights are a rugby club. Baseball’s okay, but those two next to you are rabid fans.”

“You root for the Marlins?” Rodriguez asked CJ.

“Used to when I lived in Miami, but I’m a Washington Nationals fan these days. Especially since we won the World Series back in ‘19. We’re going back this year.”

“Okay, back to my original question.” Alex disengaged himself from the Kennedys and waved a hand around. “The crowd’s starting to thin out. What are your plans?”

Due to the time difference, the awards ceremony began at five in the afternoon—TV prime time on the East Coast. Festivities followed immediately after the three-hour broadcast ended. It was a little bit past one in the morning, and everyone had been partying hard for the previous five hours. “We have to get home, Alex. At least Owen and I do. We have a two year old, and we need to relieve the babysitter. Plus, we fly out tomorrow morning. I need to be at work at the embassy in Mexico City on Tuesday morning.”

“Jen will be disappointed, but we’ll catch up soon. She has your number. I’ll text you mine later, and you can share it with Brad and the rest of the group. Next time I’m in DC to work a Nats broadcast, we’ll all get together.”

 

 

The limousine’s driver took Interstate 10 and the Pacific Coast Highway, covering the thirty-odd miles between the party and the Malibu house in less than an hour. “Where are you guys putting them?” Brad pointed at the golden statuettes CJ and Owen held.

“I’ll take mine to the office when I go back. Then I’ll put it somewhere in the apartment. What are you doing with yours, dads?” Owen asked Brett and César.

“We’ll keep one at home and the other one in the office. What about you, CJ?”

The way CJ smirked and wiggled his eyebrows telegraphed evil intent. “Mine’s going in my cubicle at the embassy.”

“What’s with the smirking?”

“I can’t wait to rub my supervisor’s nose in the win. The guy’s a jerk. When I requested time off to come here, he turned me down. Something about me being a junior staff member and not providing sufficient notice. It took the ambassador getting involved to approve the trip. She likes me.”

“Why am I not surprised?” Brad shook his head. “It sucks you guys won’t be around to do interviews with me.”

“You’ll be fine, Red. You and Anne have been doing this shit for a year. Just remember to stick to the basics: our vets need help and places like Heroes Haven need everyone’s support. This is your time to shine, bud. Enjoy it.”

Copyright © 2020 Carlos Hazday; All Rights Reserved.
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Thank you for reading. Your feedback in reactions and comments is welcome and appreciated.

And thanks to @dughlas and @Mann Ramblings for their help in making my scribbles make sense. Any errors remain mine.

Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Story Discussion Topic

US Army Rangers Sergeant Bradley Thomas Kennedy lost his legs when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device. Ranger chronicles the first couple of years following the IED incident. Will he recover sufficiently from his physical and  mental wounds to lead a fulfilling live? Will he get the girl in the end? Here's a little look at the story.    
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Chapter Comments

Great chapter and a great party party. The woman didn't appreciate Brad and CJ Greetings to each other  but then she doesn't know there background.

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58 minutes ago, chris191070 said:

Great chapter and a great party party. The woman didn't appreciate Brad and CJ Greetings to each other  but then she doesn't know there background.

There are so many parties during and after the Oscars, I had trouble deciding which one they would attend. I actually flipped coins before I settled on the Vanity Fair one.

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I am so glad you're writing this story - it is entertaining but the focus on the need for assistance to the vets through projects like you're mentioning is educational as well.  I love how you weave so many things into the story but do not stray from the important ideas.

Tony

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2 hours ago, pvtguy said:

I am so glad you're writing this story - it is entertaining but the focus on the need for assistance to the vets through projects like you're mentioning is educational as well.  I love how you weave so many things into the story but do not stray from the important ideas.

Tony

Thanks, Tony.

I try to show my characters as multidimensional individuals. To me, that means sharing details about their life that may not directly impact the plot,  but they might help us see the individual as a complete being. With that out of the way, I will generally try to keep the main storyline moving along in every chapter.

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58 minutes ago, Parker Owens said:

A fun and entertaining chapter. So many sights, experiences and impressions, I’d bet it would take Brad months to digest and think through them all. For a favorite, I’d name the selfies with Alex Rodriguez. Sox Nation meets Evil Empire. Great scene.

Evil Empire? :rofl:

When I followed baseball, I despised both teams equally. I wanted a 'safe' celebrity for them to interact with on the page, and Alex seemed a good choice. Plus I liked the unexpected detail of using baseball player at the Oscars instead of a movie celebrity

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41 minutes ago, Wesley8890 said:

First off, A-Rod can go suck an egg,

secondly the Nats ain't getting this year it's time to CHOP ON!I

Thirdly, I hate this whole pc crap I miss the days when people didn't get offended over every. single. little. thing!

Next I love the chapter! Liebe is so cute!!!

Finally, A-Rod can suck it

I laughed so hard, I started coughing and in the process swallowed my gum.

You mean the Native American Warriors? Not a chance. If there's even a season. Then again, CJ's talking about the 2022 World Series LOL

I think there's a line after which PC speech becomes ridiculous. By the same token, I wouldn't scream out Legless unless the individual was a real good friend and I knew he wouldn't be upset.  I also wouldn't call anyone Pocahontas unless that was her name.

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Hehe...CJ knows everybody!  Great, fun chapter. I can’t wait to see what good Brad will do on his journey going forward! 

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6 minutes ago, Defiance19 said:

Hehe...CJ knows everybody!  Great, fun chapter. I can’t wait to see what good Brad will do on his journey going forward! 

Some things will never change. It's good to see you around, Def.

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As several readers have pointed out, it is great Brad's story can be entertaining while sending an important message. Good chapter! Thanks. 

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50 minutes ago, JeffreyL said:

As several readers have pointed out, it is great Brad's story can be entertaining while sending an important message. Good chapter! Thanks. 

If I'm going to do a little educating and preaching (vets challenges in this one) I want to do it in a way readers enjoy. I've said before I write popular fiction, but those can also carry a message. Glad it's working.

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On 3/13/2020 at 6:26 PM, Wesley8890 said:

First off, A-Rod can go suck an egg,

secondly the Nats ain't getting this year it's time to CHOP ON!I

Thirdly, I hate this whole pc crap I miss the days when people didn't get offended over every. single. little. thing!

Next I love the chapter! Liebe is so cute!!!

Finally, A-Rod can suck it

Oh poor A-Rod.😀

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For a man to address a multiple amputee friend as 'legless' is a form of affection that I do not believe any woman could fully understand. The friendly insult shows two men to be 'brothers' at least to the extent that society allows, and is an acceptable form of address. However to call another person 'Pocahontis', especially someone who is a political opponent is stepping well over the bounds of political correctness in my opinion..

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11 minutes ago, Will Hawkins said:

For a man to address a multiple amputee friend as 'legless' is a form of affection that I do not believe any woman could fully understand. The friendly insult shows two men to be 'brothers' at least to the extent that society allows, and is an acceptable form of address. However to call another person 'Pocahontis', especially someone who is a political opponent is stepping well over the bounds of political correctness in my opinion..

You hit the nail right on the head. Our overly PC society fails to recognize personal relationships all too often. That woman would have been appalled if she heard some of my black friends call me 'n-word' even though I'm white.

I don't think I need to comment on what the orange buffoon says or does. That man needs to die and be forgotten or remembered as one of our most inept leaders (using the word loosely.)

EDIT

Damn, Google. I had to use 'n-word' instead of my original choice. Appropriate considering I just complained about an overly PC society.

Edited by Carlos Hazday
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I don't think I need to comment on what the orange buffoon says or does. That man needs to die and be forgotten or remembered as one of our most inept leaders (using the word loosely.)

AMEN to that!  The man knows NO boundaries!!

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1 hour ago, KayDeeMac said:

I don't think I need to comment on what the orange buffoon says or does. That man needs to die and be forgotten or remembered as one of our most inept leaders (using the word loosely.)

AMEN to that!  The man knows NO boundaries!!

I wouldn't be a Carlos' story without a little politics and some Trump bashing! Honestly, I hope come November I can start picking on Biden. But I doubt he'll do anything as stupidly outrageous as the orange clown.

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typo alert: The contingent from the nation’s capital, along with CJ and Owen, where staying at the old Davenport Family home in Malibu. -- WERE

Through a reputable firm, César also hired a babysitter to watch over his granddaughter while the adults attended the Academy Awards. -- Freddy or Eddie weren't available?

typo alert: Tom and César had remained by the pool and where now talking to a good looking guy with a dazzling smile. -- WERE

“We use Spanish too, but that’s what she hears all day long from her nanny." -- Nanny? Did something happen to Aba?

Do you have editors? What do they do? 😎;) 
 

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@BlueWindBoy

Don't mess with my editors or I'll send CJ after you. I've ventured into editing for a couple of authors, after warning them I'm not that good yet, and I've come to realize how hard a job it is. I'll correct both in a minute. FYI I know the difference and proper usage of where-were-we're but my fingers seem to ignore my brain's instructions at times.

I still can't believe I named two douche bags Eddie and Freddy. Maybe they are the way they are because of their nicknames? I should have added a Teddy to the cast.

Aba? Not ALL roads lead to Mexico. SPOILER Liebe's nanny's Infanta Romero.

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