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    Superpride
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Best Men - 5. Chapter Five

Ariel came through with her offer, and an hour later she and her staff were able to bake enough pandesal to satisfy an entire book club. I sampled the final product, and the bread rolls were just as fluffy and tasty as the ones I had back in the city. Also, I didn’t have to pay that much either, but I did offer her a generous tip before leaving the bakery.

Beth’s mother was thrilled when I came back and showed her the bread, and after sampling one herself, she was very confident that they were going to impress the book club. And after I relayed the ingredients and the baking process to her just in case her friends asked, I went back upstairs and decided to unpack all my clothes and other belongings into their appropriate spaces.

After that was accomplished, I decided to sit at the desk that faced the window and watch some online videos to entertain myself. After a while, I took out my sketchbook and continued designing a new marionette I had plans on creating when I returned to the city. I only planned to draw for about thirty minutes or so, but I actually lost the track of time. By the time I completed the final design of the marionette, I heard the ringing of a doorbell and I checked my phone to see that it was ten minutes before the book club meeting was supposed to happen. I quickly stood up and that was when I felt the numbness of my ass, another indicator that was I drawing for hours without breaks.

I was about to leave for the bathroom when I heard my phone buzz on the desk. Looking at the screen, I saw no name attached to the number. However, it identified the location as Ohio, so I picked it up and answered. Beth’s voice greeted me, and I felt myself smiling from hearing her voice again.

“Hey there, Patty!” Beth joked.

“Oh, God. Don’t call me that. It’s either Patrick or Rick,” I stated.

“Jeez, you’re just like my brother whenever I call him by his full name.”

“His full name? What is it?”

“It’s Wilfred,” Beth said before giggling.

I laughed just thinking about his parents referring to him with that name.

“Anyways, I’m glad you didn’t change your number because I have a small favor to ask if that’s okay?”

“What’s the favor?”

“You remember Moira. She’s already planning the wedding, and since it’s only a month away, she has been on her feet all day to get everything prepared. She wants to create a slideshow with pictures of Aaron and me growing up. Since you’re staying at my old house, do you mind going into my bedroom and finding a scrapbook. I think I either kept it in my desk or the dresser?”

“Sure. I can do that.”

“Thanks! I just need to know if I kept it there, and I’ll drive arrive tomorrow to get it.”

“All right. I’ll call you back as soon as I find it.”

Ending the call, I left the bedroom and crossed the other side of the hallway. I opened it, and it felt like walking right into the past. Almost everything looked intact from the positioning of the furniture to the décor like the posters and rugs. The only things missing were her collection of Beckie dolls, which she must’ve taken with her when she moved out.

Spotting the desk, I walked to it and began opening the drawers. Aside from a small binder and some pens and pencils, I didn’t find any scrapbook. I then looked in the dresser and was able to find what had to be the scrapbook in the bottom drawer that was cluttered with different yearbooks. Looking inside, I saw pictures of Beth during the different stages of her life. Other pictures included her family and other people who must’ve been her friends before she moved to Beckett.

With the scrapbook in my hand, I closed the drawer only to have something block it. Opening it again, I saw a small book and pulled it out. The cover indicated that the book was a diary, Beth’s diary. Out of curiosity, I opened the diary to the first page and read her handwritten words. Apparently, this was started right after Beth and her family moved to Beckett.

Beth described how her father had to retire from his position as a special agent in the FBI and decided to move to Beckett where her maternal grandfather lived before he passed away. The next page had several drawings of hearts and in the same page she described a really cute guy who sat next to her in English class. I knew exactly who she was talking about, and I couldn’t stop myself from smiling.

With my curiosity increasing, I flipped the book to the very last page and saw the last passage was dated the same day as graduation. I felt a twist in my stomach as I read Beth’s words that were full of excitement for the day. The passage then ended right there, and I knew exactly what happened after.

I sighed as I thought back to the day of graduation and decided to tell Beth right then that I wanted to end our relationship. I remembered the shattered expression in her eyes after I told her why, that I was a gay man who was hiding behind a woman who he could never truly love.

The pain from the memory was reopening old wounds, and I closed the diary and shoved it back into the drawer. After pushing the drawer closed, I called Beth back and informed her that her scrapbook was located and right in my hand. She thanked me again and told me that she would arrive to pick it up tomorrow morning.

After she ended the call, I placed the scrapbook on top of the dresser before walking out. In the hallway, I could hear a gaggle of voices coming from downstairs. I thought about staying in the bedroom, but my stomach growled again from not having eaten anything after breakfast.

My hunger winning over, I relented and descended the stairs. I wanted to enter the kitchen and grab something to take back to the bedroom, but I wanted permission from Beth’s mother first. So, I entered the living room where the book club was discussing how the main character was either selfish for committing infidelity against her husband or a symbol of female empowerment because her behavior went against the grain of the patriarchal society that novel was set in.

I cleared my throat, and all the women turned their heads to face me.

“Oh, Rick! Good to see you,” Beth’s mother said. “Would you like some bread?”

I nodded. “Oh, yes. If that’s okay.”

“Go ahead. There’s plenty to go around.”

I smiled and approached the coffee table where the pandesal was and took one in my hand.

“Well, I completely disagree with you, Stacy,” a woman said. “The main character obviously cheated on her husband to rebel against the society that believes her gender is lesser.”

“But did she have to cheat on her husband of twenty years? It just doesn’t seem right,” Beth’s mother interjected.

“This isn’t a matter of morality, but a way to convey to the reader that the main character is willing to go against the expectations set by society, the same society that is not only patriarchal but is also willing to execute anyone who even has a different opinion. That’s immoral all by itself.” The woman looked at me and said, “What do you think about what we’re talking about?”

“Oh, no. Don’t include Rick into this. He hasn’t even read the book.”

“He didn’t need to read the book to contribute to this conversation. Besides, we need a man’s perspective on this issue.” Smiling at me, she then said, “Can I ask you a question?”

“Oh, um…sure,” I responded.

“Do you think a woman should be allowed to liberate herself from the supposed moral values instilled upon her by society even if it ultimately means committing infidelity against her husband and perhaps even risking her life in the process?”

I glanced at the other women in the room, all leaning forward with their books on their laps as they waited for my inciteful commentary on women’s rights from that woman’s loaded question. “Well...I’m all about female empowerment…and I do believe that a woman should be allowed to freely express herself.”

“But…”

“But…I also believe that a person should be careful not to make enemies of the people by setting a bad example. Consider another marginalized group in society like black and gay people and think about which approach is better. Should black people fight against police brutality by starting a riot, or should they instead start a peaceful demonstration? Should gay people, when encountering a hateful preacher, insult him in return, or should they start a conversation instead? I’m guessing the main character’s infidelity is also an analogy for how she approached the situation of inequality with her husband being a metaphor for oppression. If that’s true, then I believe she shouldn’t have cheated on her husband, but instead should’ve performed a different approach that would’ve shined a better light on her. Though, I think I need to read the book before I make any more assumptions.”

After delivering my mini lecture, everyone in the living room hummed and nodded in agreement.

“I haven’t thought about it that way before,” the woman said as she held her chin. “Her marriage and infidelity being an analogy is more like the author’s style versus what I assumed.”

“I mean, it’s just my opinion. No need to set it in stone or anything like that,” I said, chuckling.

“Well, it’s a very thought-provoking opinion nonetheless.”

“I think we’re missing the point here, and that is the main character cheated on her husband with a man who plagiarized his way to become an English professor. If that’s not a blatant metaphor, I don’t know what is,” another woman said.

Everyone in the room responded with laughter.

“You’re Rick, correct?” the woman said, extending her hand. “I’m Barbara by the way.”

I shook Barbara’s hand. “Good to meet you.”

“Didn’t you used to date Elizabeth?”

I nodded.

“You know, if you don’t mind, my daughter is recently single again. I’d be happy to set you two up. Just say the word.”

“No, he should date my daughter,” another woman insisted, causing another wave of laughter.

“Ladies. Let’s return to discussing the ending of this book,” Beth’s mother said.

Despite the awkwardness that caused my face to heat up, I actually considered sitting and listening to the rest of their conversation when the front door opened.

Beth’s father entered the foyer, carrying plastic bags in both hands. “Come on, Freddy. That sheriff’s position is perfect for you.”

“Dad. I’m not going to tell you again. I’m not qualified to be a sheriff,” Freddy said, entering the foyer as well. “I’m perfectly happy just being…”

Freddy then saw me, and his eyes widened.

“It’s not like being a sheriff to a city. Beckett’s just a small town in the middle of Ohio. Just think about it, all right?” Beth’s father said, unaware that his son was now staring daggers at me.

“What are you doing here?” Freddy asked, dropping the bags he was holding onto the floor.

I opened my mouth to answer, but then Beth’s mother appeared by my side and said, “Oh, there you two are!” She kissed her husband on the lips and gave her son an awkward side hug. “How’s your day at the store, honey?”

“Eh, same old, same old. After work, your son and I decided to do some grocery shopping. I’m going to make vegan burgers on the grill in the backyard. Is that your book club?”

“It is, and Rick was just contributing to the discussion,” Beth’s mother said and patted my shoulder.

“And you’re here because…?” Freddy said.

“He’s staying over, of course.”

The twisted expression on Freddy’s face could only indicate that he was feeling everything but happiness upon that answer.

“Only until after the wedding happens,” I assured.

“Okay, but where will I be staying,” Freddy asked tensely.

“What do you mean, Freddy? I thought you were staying at O’Leary’s place?” Beth’s father said.

Now it was Beth’s mother’s turn to look horrified.

“I was, but their water got shut off this afternoon, and he insisted that I’d stay at my parent’s place instead until he got the issue resolved. I just didn’t know you were already housing a guest.”

“Freddy. How about we discuss this later, after the book club meeting ends,” Beth’s mother insisted.

“Yeah, wouldn’t want to argue and look bad in front of your friends,” Freddy said as he picked up the bags and walked away to the kitchen.

Beth’s mother sighed and looked at me with an apologetic look on her face.

“We’ll just be in the kitchen,” Beth’s father said. “Do you want to join us, Rick?”

“Oh, thanks, but I don’t think—”

“Go ahead, honey. You don’t want to stay in the living room and hear us women blabbering for the next hour,” Beth’s mother said.

“Um…all right.”

“Great. You can help us make the patties.” Beth’s father handed me one of the bags before leaving for the kitchen.

Beth’s mother gave me one last smile before entering the living room again. I looked inside the bag that contained cans of black beans and shrink-wrapped mushrooms. My stomach growled again, not satisfied with the one bread roll, and I decided that I would help prepare the vegan burgers.

Inside the kitchen, Beth’s father was placing the ingredients on the kitchen counter, while Freddy pulled out a bottle of beer from the refrigerator. I watched as he rummaged through the counter drawers but was unable to find a bottle opener.

“Hey, I can open that for you,” I said.

Freddy looked at me skeptically before handing the bottle to me. Placing the bottle against the edge of the countertop, I smacked the cap of the bottle a couple of times before removing it.

Freddy seemed impressed as I handed him back his beer, and he said, “Do you want one?”

I smiled and nodded. Freddy pulled out another beer and handed it to me. After removing the cap in the same manner, both he and I took a drink. Seeing his throat move as he drank his beer, I wondered if there was anything that he did that wasn’t sexy. From his grunts to the way he leaned his ass against the counter, it was hard to not keep my eyes off of him.

“All right, boys. These burgers aren’t going to cook themselves,” Beth’s father said.

I offered to open the canned black beans, wanting a distraction from Freddy, a man who I couldn’t avoid since he was going to stay in the same house. This was only going to lead to disaster, I was sure.

Copyright © 2019 Superpride; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

2 hours ago, drpaladin said:

Circumstances continue to thrust Rick and Freddy together. I guess Freddy gets Beth's room.

Yes, it appears that Rick and Freddy are both on the same track that will either lead to good or bad things. Thank you again for your comments!

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1 hour ago, Wesley8890 said:

My number one thing is, ew vegan burgers! Secondly damn old women always trying to hook someone up! Thirdly loved mother's reaction to where her son was staying!

Haha! I mean, I think any food can taste great if prepared right, but that's just my opinion. Also, it appears that Rick is quite the ladies' man just like Freddy despite the obvious fact of course. And the mother should've guessed where her son was staying, considering he wasn't lodging in his parents' house, until now.

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Excellent chapter, talk about putting the cat in wth the chickens, I think that there will be some fireworks.more p!ease

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1 minute ago, mikedup said:

Excellent chapter, talk about putting the cat in wth the chickens, I think that there will be some fireworks.more p!ease

Thank you! Now that Rick and Freddy will be staying in the same place, or at least until the water returns at O'Leary's, more sparks will be inevitable that could eventually lead to fireworks. More is definitely on the way.

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2 hours ago, Superpride said:

Haha! I mean, I think any food can taste great if prepared right, but that's just my opinion. Also, it appears that Rick is quite the ladies' man just like Freddy despite the obvious fact of course. And the mother should've guessed where her son was staying, considering he wasn't lodging in his parents' house, until now.

I didn't comment on vegan burgers, especially in a small town in Ohio. Really? My opinion on grilling vegan burgers is a triple EWW! If I had a cookout serving vegan burgers, no one would want to come.  :P

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45 minutes ago, drpaladin said:

I didn't comment on vegan burgers, especially in a small town in Ohio. Really? My opinion on grilling vegan burgers is a triple EWW! If I had a cookout serving vegan burgers, no one would want to come.  :P

I guess deep frying the burgers still makes it vegan haha. Rick might be disappointed with the results, especially after his breakfast of blueberry waffles and bacon pancakes. 😛

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I knew there’d be something that would place the two guys into the same house. I’m guessing that the parents will think nothing of suggesting they should share the same room and bed. There will be some excuse such as other relatives who need Beth’s room. I’m thinking if there were a guest room, they would have put Rick there in the first place.
;–)

Are vegan burgers another Filipino delicacy? I’m surprised they aren’t preparing ‘Chocolate’ Meat – which, when I was told of its ingredients, I swore I’d never even taste! Or they could have gone with a much more popular choice: Chicken Adobo.

Edited by droughtquake
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15 minutes ago, droughtquake said:

I knew there’d be something that would face the two guys into the same house. I’m guessing that the parents will think nothing of suggesting they should share the same room and bed. There will be some excuse such as other relatives who need Beth’s room. I’m thinking if there were a guest room, they would have put Rick there in the first place.
;–)

Are vegan burgers another Filipino delicacy? I’m surprised they aren’t preparing ‘Chocolate’ Meat – which, when I was told of its ingredients, I swore I’d never even taste! Or they could have gone with a much more popular choice: Chicken Adobo.

Yes, fate definitely has a sense of humor when it comes to Rick and Freddy ending up in the same house, a place familiar to both of them because of their connection with Beth. And to answer your question, vegan burger aren’t Filipino haha. Considering the father is on a diet, these burgers seem like a dietary alternative. The chocolate meat or dinuguan actually tastes really good. You just have to overlook one of its main ingredients to enjoy it. Chicken adobo is also good, but I had it too many times ever since I was a kid, so I’m kind of tired of it. If I had to choose between the two, dinuguan all the way. 😛

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9 minutes ago, Superpride said:

The chocolate meat or dinuguan actually tastes really good. You just have to overlook one of its main ingredients to enjoy it. Chicken adobo is also good, but I had it too many times ever since I was a kid, so I’m kind of tired of it. If I had to choose between the two, dinuguan all the way. 😛

Not being Filipino or having otherwise grown up eating it, I cannot overlook that one critical ingredient! Besides one of my Filipino friends was the one who told me about what it was made of and how she wouldn’t eat it! But then again, she was a Filipina Princess who never filled her own gas tank (either her father or her first boyfriend [who was Filipino] filled it) – until her dream boyfriend, a USMC officer taught her how to do it!

Naturally, she married the officer (but she still relied on her parent’s financially subsidies for her very expensive shopping habit long after he had retired from the Corp and moved onto a more lucrative government job). I doubt it was a very happy marriage. Her tastes were more appropriate for a multi-millionaire than a mere Marine Corp officer could support. She got her dream wedding with a bunch of Marine officers in Dress Whites. He looked the part, tall, handsome, and white with blue eyes. She had done some modeling before I worked with her in the Jewelry Department of a low-end department store. If she werent at least nominally a Catholic, she’d have divorced him and gone after someone much wealthy!
;–)

I was there when a mutual friend convinced him to have ice cream while watching a movie with mutual, Princess, and me. We had just watched the movie when he called, but he wasn’t told and we had to get ice cream (which we’d already had while watching the movie) and we watched the movie all over again. I was there for one of their dates (along with several other of her friends) at the Tonga Room, an expensive restaurant with rather ordinary Chinese food at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco (probably her dream date). I was there for her engagement party (also with those same friends of hers). And I was there for her dream wedding held at the chapel in the Presidio with the reception at the Presidio Officer’s Club (before the Presidio was turned over to the National Park System).

The officer’s name was Dahl. Too bad her parents didn’t name the Princess a more appropriate name: Barbie! She was smart enough to have attended UC Berkeley, but somehow never managed to conceive of a husband and wedding set in the real world.
;–)

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15 hours ago, droughtquake said:

Not being Filipino or having otherwise grown up eating it, I cannot overlook that one critical ingredient! Besides one of my Filipino friends was the one who told me about what it was made of and how she wouldn’t eat it! But then again, she was a Filipina Princess who never filled her own gas tank (either her father or her first boyfriend [who was Filipino] filled it) – until her dream boyfriend, a USMC officer taught her how to do it!

Naturally, she married the officer (but she still relied on her parent’s financially subsidies for her very expensive shopping habit long after he had retired from the Corp and moved onto a more lucrative government job). I doubt it was a very happy marriage. Her tastes were more appropriate for a multi-millionaire than a mere Marine Corp officer could support. She got her dream wedding with a bunch of Marine officers in Dress Whites. He looked the part, tall, handsome, and white with blue eyes. She had done some modeling before I worked with her in the Jewelry Department of a low-end department store. If she werent at least nominally a Catholic, she’d have divorced him and gone after someone much wealthy!
;–)

I was there when a mutual friend convinced him to have ice cream while watching a movie with mutual, Princess, and me. We had just watched the movie when he called, but he wasn’t told and we had to get ice cream (which we’d already had while watching the movie) and we watched the movie all over again. I was there for one of their dates (along with several other of her friends) at the Tonga Room, an expensive restaurant with rather ordinary Chinese food at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco (probably her dream date). I was there for her engagement party (also with those same friends of hers). And I was there for her dream wedding held at the chapel in the Presidio with the reception at the Presidio Officer’s Club (before the Presidio was turned over to the National Park System).

The officer’s name was Dahl. Too bad her parents didn’t name the Princess a more appropriate name: Barbie! She was smart enough to have attended UC Berkeley, but somehow never managed to conceive of a husband and wedding set in the real world.
;–)

Thank you for telling me that very interesting story. I'm not surprised her parents named her Barbie; Filipinos have a tendency to give their children very unique names like MonCheri and Ma Consolacion which are the names of two of my aunts haha. Nicknames are also commonly used, my parents always calling me by my nickname. I don't remember a time when my parents ever called me by my birth name. Of course, this doesn't apply to every Filipino. Also my mother was completely different, moving to the United States to become a nurse and basically sent money back every week to the Philippines to support her family. She was overall a very hardworking, independent woman and still is even after meeting and marrying my father who was Filipino as well. Fun fact: ten percent of the Filipino population have worked abroad at some point in their lives.

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3 minutes ago, Superpride said:

I'm not surprised her parents named her Barbie

Her name was Yvette. I was suggesting that Barbie would have been more appropriate for someone who seemed to live in a Dream World. You know, Barbie’s Dream House, Barbie’s Dream Sports Car, Barbie’s Dream Mansion…
;–)

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13 hours ago, droughtquake said:

Her name was Yvette. I was suggesting that Barbie would have been more appropriate for someone who seemed to live in a Dream World. You know, Barbie’s Dream House, Barbie’s Dream Sports Car, Barbie’s Dream Mansion…
;–)

Very true! And if you don't know, the Beckie doll that Rick gifted Beth for her engagement party is a play on Barbie haha.

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39 minutes ago, GanymedeRex said:

The part about the police brutality & rioting now seems surprisingly germane...

Thanks for pointing that out. Even though I posted the first chapter way back last year, the later chapters are somewhat connected to today's discourse on police brutality and reform with Freddy being a police officer of course.

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On 7/24/2020 at 6:29 PM, Danilo Syrtis said:

what a coincidence that the O’Leary water got shut  😂

excellent chapter  👍

Yes, now Freddy has no other option than to stay in the same house as Rick. Boy, will there be drama!

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