This is my 'what have I done to myself' face.
Okay here are the beats I'm struggling with.
In the play we have:
There's a BIG jump there, which I am writing in. By doing that, I started writing thee preamble to the evil Jon plot, and I realized that I'm probably going to combine the evil plan and wedding callout into one in-story night.
HOWEVER, I can't really do that without introducing the guard, because, the watch make the arrest prior to the wedding.
So I had to backtrack to plug in this entirely new section about the watch (lol prepare yourself for four completely new characters appearing 19K words into the story. What the hell was Shakespeare thinking). Like, I had a naptime to partytime timejump where the scene fits perfectly, but now I'm writing two scenes at once which doesn't work the best for publishing what I've written.
SO, I have bracketed off where I'm going to continue things. This is such a mess.
I'm also afraid again that I'm going to exhaust the plot because WOW so many of these scenes are no longer 'elaborate series of events happen' and are just 'some people talk in a dressing room for a hot second'.
WE'RE NOT EVEN HALFWAY THROUGH NOVEMBER.
Today's mess was brought to you by (in spirit not in actuality. I was thinking of this song but didn't listen to it while writing).
It was both Henry and Henrietta’s first day of work. Security for the gated community had a surprisingly high turnaround rate, and the two had been hired on at the same time. They arrived at the office building prior to noon and found Darlene, the hiring manager and head of security, waiting to greet them. She stood with Verne, assistant manager and lead regional supervisor.
“Welcome, welcome. We’re glad you two could start on short notice,” Darlene said, shaking their hands in turn. “You were the only two applicants, so I think you’ll be great.”
She beamed a smile at the two. They smiled back just as eagerly. She handed the two notepads and pencils and took a seat at a table. Henry and Henrietta followed suit. Darlene took out a three-page packet and flipped it open.
“This job is very easy, very basic, so please take copious notes,” she said.
She put on a pair of glasses.
“We train with you for now, and then we’ll see how you two fair on the night shift.”
Henrietta raised her hand.
“Yes, the girl,” Verge said.
“How long does the night shift last?”
“We usually run a strictly sun-based schedule,” Darlene said, shoving a handful of Big League Chew into her mouth. “Starts at curfew, ends at sunrise. To keep things simple tonight we’ll do a midnight to six.”
Henry raised his hand this time.
“Yes, the boy,” Verge said.
“It’s noon now. Are we going to get a break?”
“Of course! The whole purpose of training is to break you in.”
“No, like, that’s eighteen hours. Do we get to go home at any point?”
Darlene and Verge looked at one another, confused.
“Do you want this community to be unsafe?” Darlene asked. “You know what, how about this, if you finish training before midnight, you can have the interim period to do whatever you kids do these days.”
“I’m nineteen…” Henry whispered.
“Same,” Henrietta whispered in reply.
“Though, back when I did my Master’s in Business Administration, the motto always was, ‘the more training the better’” Darlene continued. “So we’ll try to go for as long as possible.”
Post-nap, Paul took a car of friends in town to grab new clothes for the party. Liza – even after the repeated demands of her daughter – refused to give a dress code or color theme aside from ‘smaller party than last night, better fashion, and we will be using the ballroom.’ Heather and Billy stayed with Liza through the afternoon and helped set up the party. Help here referring to the contractors that Liza had hired rather than Liza herself.
“I didn’t know this place had a ballroom,” Billy said, arranging chairs.
“Oh we don’t use it much,” Heather said.
Though it was her own home, she did have to ask for directions when Liza said to meet in the ballroom, but to her credit she had lived elsewhere during college.
There wasn’t too much to decorate. The ballroom was gorgeous already. All that was added were a few silver ornaments here and there, a seating area for guests, a seating area for a seven-piece musical group that Liza had hired, and the bar.
The first to arrive was a woman who looked remarkably like Andy, but carrying a violin. Andy had never carried a violin. She was more of a bagpiper herself. Once the rest of the music section arrived, a viola, cello, bass, flute, clarinet, and bassoon, Liza shuffled away to go get dressed. Heather and Billy followed suit while the musicians tuned their instruments.
Liza was first to return with only the musicians and bartender present, so she left. Heather and Billy returned, Heather in a well-tailored floor length charcoal grey gown with a sweetheart neckline and pockets, Billy in a grey suit that was just a bit reflective over top of a hot pink shirt and white bowtie.
“The pink was a choice,” Heather said, stepping out of her slippers and into a pair of black two-inch pumps.
Billy was about to defend himself when Liza entered the room in wearing a gown of pure silver. She looked like pure mercury, and as she entered the musicians began to play. She pranced over, the sound of stiletto heels clicking as she walked.
“I paid them to do that,” Liza said, turning to the section and telling them they could stop. “Isn’t money wonderful?”
“It really is,” she said.
Paul and Jon were next to arrive, looking better dressed than frankly anyone in the room had expected. Well, it would be disingenuous to imply that the bartender or musicians would have pre-conceived expectations of the brother’s fashion abilities, but it definitely was surprising. The two wore standard matching suits, which Jon somehow made look considerably uglier just by the way he walked, stood, breathed, and existed.
“I hope we’re not early,” Paul opened.
“Oh by no means,” Liza said, staring over his shoulder at the door. “The invitations did say nine. Why don’t you four have a drink while I go look for my sister.”
Liza left the ballroom under the pretense of looking for Andy, but actually just to have an excuse to reenter with more people. Chris and Ben showed up, also in matching suits – they chose a dark navy. Connor and Bailey were last to arrive, Connor in all black and Bailey wearing a dress very similar to Heather but much limper, and no pockets.
“Oh no, you might have to go change,” Chris whispered to Heather after getting a good look at Bailey.
“I think we know who wore it best.”
Liza returned with Andy to flowing music. Liza was still in her silver dress and Andy was in a slightly duller and thicker version of the same, like if Liza’s dress had been washed a few too many times, but was also built for the winter.
The lights dimmed, the music played, and Liza quite aggressively demanded that everyone dance.
Heather, appropriately, paired with Chris. Heather had gone through a dance phase after her horse phase, so she knew what she was doing, Chris less so, but Heather was able to lead in a way that made it look like Chris was doing the work. The two spun around the dance floor in an effortless rotary waltz.
Connor and Bailey paired up immediately. The two were surprisingly swift dancers. This left Jon alone, and a charitable Andy swept in as his partner. Jon was a centipede of left feet and his hands were sticky.
Liza and Paul glanced at each other, back at Billy and Ben who were staring around the room nervously, and paired together. Liza lead with confidence and the two spun around, keeping eyes on the rest of the floor.
Billy and Ben paired together in performative reluctance.
“Are they together?” Liza asked Paul as the spun.
She had neglected to put in her contacts, which didn’t make her completely blind or anything. She had had Lasik, and without the contacts she could function, but faces were still a little blurry.
“Heather and Chris?” Paul asked, turning his head every which way. “Or Billy or Ben. It’s yes to both.”
“Good good,” Liza said. “I guess while I have you here, what are your thoughts on Chris?”
Paul smiled, continuing to step in time.
“Great guy,” Paul said. “If you really want a good review, I’d talk to Ben. They’ve been best friends for longer than I’ve known them, but I’ve only good things to say about Chris.”
Liza was comforted by Paul’s words. From her own perception, Chris was relatively harmless, but even the best of people use Yelp from time to time.
“He is a lightweight though,” Paul said. “I’d change that in him if I could.”
Elsewhere on the floor, Billy and Ben were battling hand positions.
“No, no, I’m leading,” Billy said, pulling his hand out of Ben’s and reorienting it so Ben’s was in his.
“Who said you got to lead,” Ben replied, shifting his own hand.
“I took Ballroom Dance 1 in college,” Billy hissed, taking back the lead and nearly running into Paul and Liza.
“I also took Ballroom Dance 1,” Ben said, moving his other hand to Billy’s back. “We were in the same class.
“Yeah well I took Social Dance in high school,” Billy quipped. “That’s got to count for something.”
The two continued to spin. There was something about the rotary waltz that made it so you really couldn’t be unhappy – unless you were Andy of course dealing with Jon’s sticky hands. The background turns to a blur from the spinning leaving your partner the only thing in focus like an Instagram photo. You feed off the push and pull of your partner with a constant joyful fear of breaking the rhythm. Billy stared at Ben and Ben back at Billy, and the two couldn’t stop from smiling, even if they were still bickering the whole time.
Joy aside, the two were objectively poor at special awareness, careening around the ballroom with reckless abandon. Heather and Chris’s dodged the gay loose cannon on the dance floor gracefully. They didn’t speak, but stared at one another smiling. One of those ‘conversations without words’, except not really a conversation, or if it had been a conversation, the only words exchanged would have been ‘I feel joy’ again and again.
The music ended and the couples broke their forms, Billy and Ben quickly, Chris and Heather slowly, and Paul and Liza last of all; Liza insisted that Paul twirl her out for a final spin. Everyone clapped, mostly for the musicians, Liza for herself. The crowd split up, most to the bar, and Jon, Connor, and Bailey to the seats. The music started back up.
“Oh my god, is she singing?” Bailey said, looking over at the music section.
The violinist was playing violin and providing vocals in tandem. Bailey was slightly aroused.
“You two still down for the plan?” Jon asked.
He sipped his drink. Scotchka on the rocks.
“Of course,” Bailey replied, taking a sip of her own drink, whiskey. “My purse is like, full to the zipper with lube.”
Connor blushed, and Jon grinned.
“We just need to ensure that Heather leaves for long enough and we’re set.”
Ben and Chris returned to the table. Billy and Heather were chatting with their parents back at the bar. Chris, who was only one and a half drinks in was already buzzed.
“Well look at you two love birds,” Jon jeered.
Ben and Chris stared back Jon, confused.
“He means you two independent of one another,” Bailey said. “It’s all very cute.”
Ben blushed, and Chris smiled sheepishly.
“You think so?” Chris asked.
“I mean, I always assumed that Paul would end up with her, but you seem to be doing a good job.”
“You two are absolutely adorable,” Liza said.
Heather smiled, but Billy shied away from the words.
“And I want you to know, Heather, that I approve of Chris. Word's out on Ben though.”
Billy flushed and sipped his drink.
“You know for someone constantly rejecting the mainstream, you seem to be riding my coattails this weekend,” Heather said, playing with her dress.
Billy gave her a confused look.
“Oh you know, Chris and I start being a thing and now you and Ben are dancing again.”
Billy started to speak but was cut off by Heather.
“The change looks good on you,” she said. “The boy. Not the pink.”