Since the country is still in upheaval from the election and it’s going to take a while to sort it out and get everyone calmed down, here’s another distraction. The first chapter and a half of The Dysfunctional Wedding – unedited…
Chapter 1 Prologue
Some years ago, I realized my life was the Universe’s idea of a practical joke. For a long time, the thought depressed me. Then I realized that I was not the only one the Universe found entertaining.
Chapter 2 Burning Down The House
When I was ten, my younger brothers Vlad and Devlin were outside building a fort when the fort collapsed. The two came into the house screaming the walls down. My parents being the dutiful parents they were, rushed both boys to the ER and left me under the care of my brother, Ivan. I decided I wanted to do something nice for my brothers and decided to bake a cake. When I opened the pantry to get the cake mix, I found several bottles of water with a strange odor that was 16.9 ounces. The cake mix called for two cups of water, so I decided to use a bottle to keep from dirtying up a measuring cup on water. I’m still not sure what was in those water bottles. I do know that once I put the cake in our oven, something went terribly wrong. The cake burst into flames and within moments, the entire stove was also engulfed. It took less than a minute for it to catch the wall behind the stove on fire.
My parents returned from the ER to find Ivan, me, and my grandfather Leon, outside the house. There was much conversation that involved whispering and words in other languages between my mother and grandfather. I didn’t get in trouble, but the bottles of water disappeared and never reappeared.
The memory had hit me suddenly, as I stood on the street, nearly five hundred feet from Alex’s house. Her house, her lawn, the street, and a truck were all engulfed in flames. Someone had told us about ten minutes earlier that the truck was a jet fuel tanker, which explained why everything was on fire. The entire neighborhood had been evacuated as special fire fighting equipment was being brought in from Kansas City International Airport. However, we were all convinced that by the time the equipment arrived, everything Alex owned was going to be ash.
For most people, your cousin’s house burning to the ground via arson would be weird. My family isn’t most. I was more concerned about the fact that it was two-thirty in the morning and my mother was whispering, in Russian, to my grandfather, Leon, who hadn’t showed up at such a trivial event as a house burning, since that day when Ivan called him because my cake had spontaneously combusted. Even when a Russian crime lord had been in my house, threatening to kill my mother and me in slow and painful ways but ended up being foiled by poor attachment of a stove that burned down my house, my grandfather sent me a text message to check on us and it was the middle of the day.
“Shit, my dress was in there,” I mumbled.
“Mine too,” Kenzie answered. Kenzie was another cousin of mine. She was eight months pregnant with twin elephants or something equally large. She looked like she had swallowed a hot air balloon. Of course, no one said these things aloud because she was also hormonally distressed and could go from crying to throwing dishes in less than a blink of an eye. Her baby’s father, Anthony, a once very tough mercenary from Germany, was even worse. He was suffering from Couvade’s Syndrome, also known as Sympathetic Pregnancy. His doctor was starting to worry about him lactating.
“We’ll go get snacks.” She announced loudly. Anthony nodded and the two disappeared in the crowd. I wasn’t sure what sort of snacks went with arson, but Alex and Sebastian didn’t protest, so neither did I.
In less than two weeks, Alex was supposed to be married. I currently had six Great danes, three bobcats, Kenzie, and Anthony living with me, so my Maid of Honor’s dress and Kenzie’s bridesmaid’s dress were both being stored at Alex’s. Alex had a fourteen thousand dollar wedding dress. Not because she actually wanted a wedding dress that cost more than most cars, but because my mother wanted her to have a wedding dress that cost more than most cars and we were Russian. Russian weddings are similar to coronating royalty. It didn’t help that Grandfather Leon was a Russian Orthodox priest. This wedding was costing more than most people made in a year and that was exactly as everyone except the bride, groom, maid of honor, and bridesmaids wanted it. Alex had even had a few people decline to be bridesmaids because the dress was outrageously expensive.
Now, all three dresses would have to be remade, which meant they would also have to be paid for a second time. I was pretty sure arson wasn’t covered by the original dressmaking fee. Even if the dressmaker was a family member.