We're back, baby!
And appropriately enough, it IS September while this is being written and while Daffy Braggart is having a good mope over her boy toy getting nicked in the last chapter.
This of course being in addition to the good mope she was having over the closing - not failure! - of her precious Gort Line to Nowhere. She'd been so caught up in this round of lachrymose nombrilisme, she'd barely had time to fret over such plot points as the Gort doodle she'd found a few other chapters ago or the mass exodus of Great Men.
What she considered Great Men - hedge fund and private equity managers, heirs to oil companies who'd never worked a day in their lives, and all the many bosses who survived on nothing but the sweat and toil of underpaid others. Her heart bled for them most of all, or would if she had the time. And a heart.
"Oh Niels," she wailed. "You won't leave me too?"
"I'm in this chapter?" asked Niels.
To Daffy's champagne and quaalude addled mind, it seemed as if some Destroyer was moving across the land, erasing all the Greatness. And she was sure this horrible personification of Gotterdamurung was the same author of the brilliant engine dismissed by so many as a crayon drawing simply because that's exactly what it was.
Hey, I didn't make up this screwy logic of hers.
In a scene missing from the previous chapter - or the one before it, I can't keep track of this mess anymore - Daffy had discovered a brilliant engineer by the name of Quisling and tasked him with making some tangible product out of the crude doodle. She knew he was a brilliant engineer because he'd said so and had been working as a custodian when she found him. Only a genius would take a job so far below their actual abilities, so as to spite the world for not fawning all over them.
"I will pay you whatever you like!" Daffy had offered upon showing the Gort drawing to Quisling.
"I'll do it for free," he'd said in a sleazy con-artist's voice - which Daffy really should have been familiar with by now in her life. "And by 'free' I mean 'your sweet ass.'"
Now, sitting on a pack of frozen peas to relieve the burning sensation, Daffy looked at Quisling's latest report and wondered how much longer the project would take...
"Oh yeah, and Tim's getting married today!"
You may remember Tim had something going with a convenience store clerk named Sheryl. Well it's clearly a whole lot of something but we really couldn't get into that because it would detract from whatever Daffy's doing.
"And I matter!" declared Daffy to the embittered narrator who will leave her a pants-wetting vegetable before this is all over.
We now switch to Spank Rearend's scene because that whole bit where Daffy talks to some guy about a super special cigarette is too boring. While he was still facing charges for contempt of court and reckless endangerment of anyone down-wind of his hyper-toxic green metal, Spank was still rich enough to be out on bail and at dinner with some other rich idiot. Let's call him Dan.
They had to meet clandestinely in expensive restaurants like this, merrily throwing back highballs and chowing on steaks, so that no one would notice Spank Rearend was still forging his vanity metal and Dan was just dumb enough to buy it.
"Bunch a' fuckin' commies in DC are complainin' I'm expanding too fast!" whined Dan. "They're all like, 'You gotta listen to experts,' and 'You're blasting for coal where there's no coal,' and 'Technically we can charge you with terrorism,' and junk!"
I told you he was dumb.
"Experts!" sneered Spank. "What do they know?"
And they had a good chortle, agreeing rather loudly that Spank would deliver all the spankmeum Dan required and that he'd keep blasting open mountain tops for coal to sell to Braggart Big Damn Rail - despite the fact that trains haven't run exclusively on steam power for over a century. It makes sense if you're rich enough to drink away your brains in a single evening.
Later, sitting all alone in his big mansion because his wife and family don't appear in this chapter, Spank thought of how guiltless he felt about all this. Sure, he was committing a felony but he had no conception of the deprivations of a prison term so figured it couldn't be any worse than being stuck in traffic for a long time.
Neither did he feel a shred of guilt over cheating on his long-suffering wife with Daffy Braggart. And he was craven enough to think this was something to be proud of. "Who's awesome? You're awesome!" he said to the mirror.
But who's reflection is that? Why it's his wife Lily! She's actually in this chapter!
Lily entered, dressed in one of the more respectable gowns Spank allowed her and said meekly, "Dear? Don't you remember Tim Braggart's wedding?"
"Of course not!"
She flinched, then continued as diplomatically as she could, "Because it's today and we were invited -"
"What!?" Spank turned on her in that pose of ready violence she knew all too well. "Why didn't you tell me!?"
Near tears, Lily protested, "But I did. I told you a month ago and I even wrote it down in your day planner -"
"You stay out of there!" he shouted, striking her with the back of his hand with such force she was spun face-first into the door frame. He felt a stirring at seeing her bruised and bloody - like old times - but quickly filed it away for some later one-handed exercise. "Well get yourself cleaned up and let's go. I can't be expected to do everything around here."
And now we QT to the next scene, as Dan Simmons would say -
In a modest church in Queens where Sheryl examines herself one last time in the mirror. Some of her friends had been surprised to hear she and Tim were having a genuine church wedding, neither of them being very religious. But there remained an aesthetic appeal in ceremony.
How they'd come to this after a chance meeting in a convenience store is a story too touching and therefore too boring for the purposes of this narrative. Suffice to say, they loved each other and it annoyed Tim to no end how tabloids frequently suggested he was doing Sheryl some sort of favor.
"How hard can it be for this Joan woman to understand I just want you?" Tim would mutter at the evening news.
"You know what they say - bitches be crazy," Sheryl would reply.
It was that kind of relationship.
And now with the marriage they were under even more scrutiny. The ceremony itself had only been announced to the fewest close friends and family - which included Daffy, much to Tim's dismay.
"She is your sister," Sheryl had said. "You're always saying to give her the benefit of the doubt.
"So that's what I did to deserve this..."
Out in the sanctuary, barely two dozen people seated themselves in the old pews and waited. Tim, breaking protocol somewhat, had personally welcomed everyone as they arrived. With most of Sheryl's family still in Buffalo, and not doing all that well financially, he understood the effort they'd gone to and wanted to show his appreciation. Though Sheryl, full of stubborn pride he couldn't help admiring, categorically refused for him to pay entirely for them all. He'd talked her down to about four figures.
It was while everyone waited for the bride to arrive that Spank Rearend made his entrance, much to everyone's dismay.
"Oh Spank!" Daffy ejaculated - women can do that too - as she stood up from her seat.
Spank didn't even hide his own joy at seeing Tim's sister. Tim could swear Lily looked about to cry, even under that pair of boxy black sunglasses she wouldn't even take off in the somber gloom of the church. She sat stiffly next to Spank while he and Daffy made googly eyes at each other for everyone to see.
Finally - and on schedule - Sheryl arrived in her simple gown. If not for her, Tim would have lacked the strength of will to ignore Daffy's obvious disdain at wearing anything that didn't cost a thousand dollars and come from Europe. Thankfully, once Sheryl reached the front with him he didn't have to look at his sister or her surprise guest.
Yes, Daffy invited Spank without consulting her brother. And she told it to his cuckolded wife, whom she's been cuckolding. Enlightened egotism!
And because nobody cares about a damn wedding ceremony -
"I do! I'm the best man!"
- or Snarkin -
We'll just hurry up to the reception in the Braggart building ballroom, established when Pere Braggart was in a particularly alliterative mood. Tim had a friendly chat with Doyle - "Congrats, buddy! She sure is something special!" - and Sheryl tried to make peace with Daffy.
"I don't expect to be your friend right away," she said diplomatically. "Or at all. But I just want to assure you I'm not trying to be the woman of the family now or anything."
"Damn straight!" Daffy retorted. She'd been drinking everclear from a hip flask all day. "'Cuz I'm the man!" she slurred and went off somewhere to try and pee standing up.
And there was some more plot stuff about the DC regulations but none of that is as important as the unexpected appearance of Francisco Domingo Carlo Banana Fana bo Binko d'Ano The Third!
"Franky!" declared Daffy, upon her return from the coat room with an obvious piss stain down the front of her dress.
"Oh good heavens!" Franky smiled, "You look just like you did in college!"
That Rearend shyster Tim could allow but this... "You've got a lot of nerve showing up," he said icily to d'Ano. "In this country."
"Oh, you're not still sore over all that?" Franky retorted coquettishly.
"I am. So are my shareholders. And the FBI." Never a violent man, Tim felt the overwhelming urge to punch this clown who'd caused so much damage to his business.
For those of you just joining us, d'Ano owned a mine in Mexico that turned out to be an empty fraud and he's now wanted for all sorts of white collar crime charges. But Daffy still believes in him because she's dumb.
"Franky! Come here and tell Spank your theory of money!"
Yes, that's where she gets it from.
While d'Ano went on at stupid length on his stupid monetary theories - which all boiled down to "gold is shiny" - Tim stalked out of the ballroom to get some fresh air. Not too long after, he was approached by Lily Rearend. She carried a small package.
"Congratulations, Tim," she said softly. "I-I got this for you and Sheryl. Please don't tell Spank, I don't want him to know I..."
Tim winced as he received the little package. "Lily, if you ever want to talk about, well, whatever."
But she turned around and disappeared back into the ballroom. Tim stood there, looking down at the package in his hands until Sheryl stepped out to see how he was doing. "I saw Lily. Is everything alright?"
Her tone and the look Tim gave her said they both knew damn well she wasn't. Holding out the package, "She gave me this."
Sheryl unwrapped it gingerly. Inside was a snowglobe with a scale reproduction of the Braggart building inside and two crude little man and wife statues, like the kind usually found on wedding cakes.
"My god, I think she made this!" gasped Sheryl.
Looking back into the ballroom, they could both see Tim's sister chatting loudly and happily with d'Ano and Rearend, the latter's hand brazenly resting on her ass.
"How can people be so cruel?" asked Sheryl.
"I hate weddings," Tim said.
She grasped her new husband's hand tightly. "Well at least we only have to do it once," she said with a faint smile.
Back inside, Franky was deep into his ponderous pontificating - "Like, the only reason there's any value is 'cause, like, someone who's worth something made it. Nobody buys a suit from a loser so losers can't have real value. Like, why do we have legs if not for pants, am I right?"
Daffy and Spank both cackled in agreement. None of them were right.
But somewhere, someone was not wowed by d'Ano's shallow narcissism. "Typical child of money," came a muttering from among the rest of the guests.
"Who said that!?" d'Ano wheeled drunkenly on all the other guests who had so far not cared to pay attention to the gabby drunken trio. "Who fucking said that!?"
"I did," said an older woman. One of Sheryl's relatives from Buffalo, an aunt if Tim remembered correctly. "Because you are. You're every awful thing a person turns into when they don't have to answer for their own bullshit."
"Oh of course," d'Ano said with exaggerated sarcasm. "Because I come from money, right?"
"Because you never had to work for it," the aunt said firmly. "Because you've never tasted desperate. And if you did, you wouldn't last a day."
This one steely woman finally managed to shut up Francisco Domingo Carlo Banana Fana bo Binko d'Ano The Third. He gaped at her for a moment then, composing himself, left with a huffy "C'mon girls, let's blow this joint!" to Daffy and Spank.
Leaving the wedding reception behind, Our Heroes Three went about doing what Heroes do best - get shit-faced and shout pedantically at one another.
"Of course I was born into money!" whined Franky. "I'm naturally that awesome!"
"Just like my metal!" Spank declared. "Have I told you about my metal? It's 'spankmeum' because it's awesome like me -"
"Weren't we talking about me here?"
Daffy could just stare with rapt admiration and inebriation at these two men she had the hots for as they shouted about themselves to each other, faces just close enough to kiss.
God, I want another six months off...