Anyplace Else(9)

By: Kim Fielding


With a towel tied around his hips, he surveyed the fruit basket and then decided he wasn’t hungry. Instead he brewed a cup of coffee to take out onto the lanai. With the cup cradled in his hands, he leaned against one of the lanai posts and watched the sky.

The moon was long gone, and soon the stars began to disappear as the sky lightened to indigo, then violet, then went briefly white before taking on an orange tint. Grant knew he’d have to look away in a moment, when the sun topped the distant hills. But as the first strong and vibrant ray burst toward him, he lifted his coffee mug. “Happy birthday, Dazhbog.”





DESPITE THE simplicity of the impending wedding ceremony, preparations somehow ate up most of the day. There was one memorable moment shortly after lunch when Grant glanced at Uly—standing against a wall with a phone in his hand—and noticed that his twin’s complexion had gone a peculiar shade of green. Grant quickly tugged Uly to the nearest restroom.

“What is it?” Grant demanded.

“I just realized I still have all those hookup apps on my phone. You know, Jack’d, Scruff, Grindr….”

Grant stared at him in bewilderment. “Are you using any of them?”

“Of course not! Not since the day I met Filip.” That had been almost two years ago in a parking-lot fender bender—a meet-cute story so adorable it used to make Grant gag.

“Then why do you look like you’re going to puke?”

Uly stared at him wide-eyed, his face almost a mirror image of the one Grant saw every time he combed his own hair or shaved. “Why didn’t I delete them? What if this means I subconsciously intend to cheat on Filip? Oh God. What if I break his heart?”

Stifling a laugh, Grant drew Uly into a hug. “You won’t cheat,” he said, ruffling Uly’s hair the way he knew would irritate the hell out of him. “You two will still be married and making everyone horribly jealous when the next century rolls around.” Grant noogied him for good measure.

Later in the afternoon, Filip nearly bumped into Grant on the stretch of lawn where the wedding would take place. “Uly tells me you calmed him,” Filip said. “Thank you.”

“My job. When we were in college, I had to talk him down every finals week. Also before he started law school and again before he took the bar. He freaks out when he’s stressed, but he gets over it eventually, don’t worry.”

Filip grinned. “I have permission to call you next time he stresses?”

“Anytime, man. I’ll give you lessons on getting him to chill.”

“Very good.” Filip’s expression turned serious. “But who calms you?”

“I’m usually good on my own.”

“And how do you feel today?” Filip cast a significant look in the direction of the rain forest.

“I saw him last night. I saw him get killed. I… I held him while he died. Jesus, I’m sorry. This is your day, and I shouldn’t be talking about stuff like—”

“Stop. I am happy you were with him. You eased his way. And today, sun is joyful, is it not?”

“I suppose it is.” Grant glanced at the perfectly blue sky, then back at Filip. “I am really glad you and Ulysses found each other, and I’m so happy you’re joining our family.”

“And you are joining mine. I think you will find this is adventure.”

More hugs ensued. It was going to be cool to have another brother, Grant realized. One who led a considerably more interesting life than Grant.

The women wore sundresses to the ceremony, while most of the men were in Hawaiian shirts and shorts. Uly and Filip had matching white linen trousers and red shirts patterned with white flowers. They stood under a canopy festooned with jasmine, and a breeze gently flapped their clothing as the sun dipped toward the Pacific, painting the sky behind them in exuberant reds, pinks, and oranges. Grant didn’t cry as Uly and Filip exchanged vows. Well, not very much.

Afterward the newlyweds and their guests celebrated with a luau on the beach. A band played Hawaiian-tinged versions of eighties pop tunes, a genre for which Filip held an inordinate fondness. Grant danced with almost everyone, male and female, and felt especially proud when he deftly fended off the groping hands of a cousin’s drunken boyfriend. A little sloshed himself, he raised toasts—some of them bawdy—to the new couple.

At some point the cute waiter appeared, apparently just off duty. He and Grant danced. “What was in that drink?” Grant asked as they stepped to “Karma Chameleon.”

“Magic.”

“Okay.”

The song ended, followed by a mellow ukulele version of “Jesse’s Girl.” Grant and the waiter continued dancing until Grant couldn’t hold back the questions anymore. “So you were born in Cusco, Peru?”