Parchment, Part 4

His idea? Janice snapped out of her guy-gazing spell, and wondered, what does he mean? “Idea? John, what are you talking about?” She was dying with curiosity to know about John’s mysterious “idea”.

A large wave crashed onto the white sand with an audibly strong impact. John devilishly smiled at Janice. Janice gave an even more fiendish smile back to John, as the water crept back from the sand, back in towards the dark, cold ocean.

As their world, as they knew it, drew away from talking about John’s secret “idea” and right into the reality of the moment, they both realized that one of them didn’t have anything on underneath her dress, and the other was still dripping wet in his clothes. “I guess I need to go to my room to get dressed more, uh, appropriately”.

John didn’t have to probe any further on the topic to know what manner of clothing Janice meant. “Me too, I have to change, luckily I have some extra clothes in the car”. They kissed again, ever so sweetly before getting themselves ready, again, for what would be quite the dramatic evening. Janice went towards her room while John headed for the parking area where his car was.

When he got to the car, John got his extra clothes from inside his backpack. A black t-shirt, underwear, and jeans. Not quite what the rest of the party would have in mind, but then, what choice did he have? He hastily changed into his decidedly less formal clothes in the car, and got out. He walked back towards the house’s door, wondering if Janice would be there to let him in.

Then, he thought, was he forgetting something? The idea, of course! He ran back to the car, got his diary notebook, and turned to the very last page of the half-filled notebook. He quickly jotted down a few things, read over them, and deemed the content satisfactory. He tucked the notebook into his back pocket and made a beeline to the door.

For the third time, he rang the doorbell. And, this time, it was Mr. Santos who opened the door. John couldn’t see Janice anywhere from his vantage point. The first thing Mr. Santos noticed was that the late guest was dressed all too inappropriately. Second, he noticed that he’d met the person before. Just once.

“You! You have some nerve, boy!” Not what he expected, for sure! John trembled on the spot, at an extreme loss for words in this situation. His heartbeat quickened…

“What do you have to say? You want to ask if you could see Janice? Well, sorry, boy, she is already spoken for. She is engaged, if you didn’t already know.”

…every second that passed since he saw Janice’s father standing there in the doorway in front of him. What to say? He had to say something, anything, or else…


… his bright idea would go to ruins, having never been set into motion. What was there for him to lose? A lot…

“Either give me a good reason why I should let you back in, or else you should go home!”

…but there was everything in the world to gain. At least, everything that really meant something to him. One of which, he had to admit, was Janice. Now or never.

“Mr. Santos, I need to go tell my parents that I’m going home.” “Your parents are here?” “Yes.”

Now this was a surprise to him. A pleasant surprise, in fact. He might be able to define the familiarity of John’s name.

“Give me the names of your parents.”

This was exactly what John dreaded. No turning back now, though.

“Mr. and Mrs. Henry Flores”

Henry Flores. The name ran through his head, and this time, it had a somewhat clear definition. He remembered what he knew of Henry Flores: rich local real estate tycoon, married to…

“A relative! You’re a god-damned relative of ours! What the hell!? How dare you, coming here and getting into incestuous acts, with my own daughter, no less! You really have some nerve coming back in here!”

John was braced for this, the storm of anger that might occur once, as Janice said, the shit hit the fan. He had the response coolly prepared.

“It’s not all that is seems, sir. Just give me a chance to explain it to you, my parents, and all of them.”

It’s not all that is seems? But Janice admitted to doing something back in the water, didn’t she? Now he was a bit confused. He wondered what John could possibly say to clear up the matter? The worst thing that could happen was him exposing himself as a cousin-screwing bastard, and that wasn’t so bad. From his point of view.

It’s not all that it seems. A white lie by John if there ever was one, for sure. If anything, “it’s a lot more than just that” would’ve been more truthful, and painful. He had to let himself have a chance, though, and lying at that instant was the only way to get that chance. He always hated lying, but, strangely, he didn’t have any remorse on this occasion.

“Okay, come in, boy, before I change my mind.” “Thank you, sir.”

As he walked in, perhaps for the last time that night, he noticed that Janice was right there, inside, near the door.

Janice smiled that great smile of hers, upon meeting eyes with John again.

“How’s it going?” “It’s okay, I guess. I had to lie to your father just to get back in.”

Janice’s father had walked ahead to the party area where practically everyone else was, giving John and Janice some private moments, to talk things over before John would go through with his plan.

“What did you say to him?” “I told him that things between you and I aren’t all that they seem.” “Ha! That can be said in a good and bad way, I would think!” “Didn’t think of it that way. Well, no turning back now, you’re now going to see me put my plan into motion.” “You are truly killing me! Please John, you just have to tell me what it is.”

John thought about it, should he tell her about it first? She wasn’t quite an integral part of the idea, but she surely helped set it into motion. He figured, he owed her that much for that. So, he revealed a “condensed” version to her. After he finished, she eyes lit up, she was smiling, and said “Go for it! I’ll be with you all the way!”

He instantly felt powered up, inspired, confident, upon hearing Janice’s response. And happy that this woman with problems would be so enthusiastic about it. “Thanks, it really means a lot to me to hear such optimism from you, in more ways than one.” He kissed her firmly on her mouth, and they both walked towards the main room, hand in hand.

It seemed, to both John and Janice, as if all eyes were focused on the two of them this time. Both were very hesitant to look up and around to confirm this fact. John asked her if there was a PA system in the room. There was, and she led him to it. When they got to it, Janice turned on the microphone for him, looked around, and quickly walked out, towards her room. This left John feeling a bit confused, because, why did the person who said she’d “be with him all the way” leave him there so suddenly?

Looking around at everyone made him even more nervous, for, he was right, almost eyes had been focused on him and her. He looked around, and spotted his parents, both seemingly curious and wondering what was going on. He saw Mr. Santos, talking to a group of relatively large men, large enough in the right places to throw out some guy who would say something Mr. Santos didn’t like.

A tough situation, no matter how you looked at it, and regardless of however you prepare for it. He hesitated for a few seconds, feeling the pressure of the moment. “Pressure creates diamonds”, he thought to himself. “Pressure creates diamonds. And pressure on parchment crumples it pretty bad.” He laughed in his thoughts at that “inside joke”. With some of the nervous energy released from his joke, he started to speak to everyone over the microphone, occasionally looking at the paper he wrote on.

“Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m John Flores, owner, and head writer of The Parchment magazine. Highly touted as the best literature periodical in the country, but lagging behind mostly every other periodical in terms of sales. I could never really put my finger on why we did so poorly as a product, until tonight. Specifically, until I met my cousin, Miss Janice Santos. Simply, the most wonderful, remarkable human being I have ever met in my life. Despite family pressure as well as social and otherwise, she broke relations with her rich fiancee’ earlier this evening.”

He could almost feel the air go out of Mr. Santos as he continued his “speech”…

©1999 Jerome Baquilar