Willie had a tiny house on an alley street right behind the school. It had a big porch with a swing in front. When they entered the house a little hot dog type dog ran out to greet them. The little dog scampered cheerfully around Willie’s feet until he picked him up and gave him some love. “This is my dog, Pedro.”
Daisy scratched Pedro behind the ears. “I remember you, you’re a little cutie,” she cooed.
“He’s pretty cool. I didn’t know you had a dog,” Connor said.
Willie passed Pedro over to Grace. “I think Pedro loves Grace more than me.” He chuckled at the energetic way Pedro licked her face.
“Doggy love… get it girl.” Connor laughed at Grace who was wiping slobber off her cheek.
“Shut up Connor.” Grace laughed too but wasn’t enjoying it.
Willie’s mother, a tall, elegant looking lady, came out of the kitchen. She had long dreads and smooth dark skin. She was from the Virgin Islands originally so she had a beautiful English type accent. Willie looked just like her but being born in Florida gave him a mixed, slightly Southern accent. “Mom, this is Connor. He’s the one I’m spending the night with tonight.”
Connor stuck his hand out politely. “Hello, Mrs. Coleman. I’m Connor Bailey and this is my girlfriend Daisy Greene.” He shook her hand gently.
“People call me Cora. You may also. Willie talks about you two all the time. I feel like I know you already. Have you eaten?”
“I’m good. We’ll be eating at the bowling alley later on,” Connor replied. Then he looked at Daisy, “You?”
She shook her head. “No thank you.”
“I will just go back to my baking then,” Cora excused herself.
“Let’s go to my room and play Halo 3.” They followed Willie back to his tiny room. “Watch your step,” he said as they entered. Bike gear hung from the ceiling and covered the floor. Connor and Willie pushed tools and bike parts to the side and sat on the floor to play games while the girls sat on the bed, discussing Coach Peggy’s wedding plans.
“Where are they going for the honeymoon?” Grace asked curiously.
“They’re going on a cruise ship for two whole weeks,” Daisy reported dreamily.
“Oh, that sounds so romantic.” Grace smiled, as she lay back against Willie’s pillow. Pedro jumped up on the bed to cuddle with her. Grace scratched his ears lovingly. “Don’t ya think so, Willie?”
“It would sound a whole lot more romantic if it was my cruise and not somebody else’s.” With a huge amount of laughter, Willie stuck his hand high in the air for a high-five.
Connor slapped Willie’s hand loudly. “You got that right, man.” Everyone laughed and continued playing games.
As time went on, Connor became edgy. “Maybe we should get going.” He sighed.
The way he said it, caught Daisy’s attention. “Why sound so worried?” She slid down off the bed to sit next to him.
“I’m not sure. I just don’t feel like going to the bowling alley. I wish we were going to the beach instead.” He put his arm around her, hoping for some comfort. “Can we pray before we go? I don’t feel peaceful about tonight at all,” he confessed.
“Pray?” Willie repeated the word in a puzzled tone. “You better pray hard, cause this is totally crappy weather for the beach, man.”
“I’ve never prayed before,” Grace added in.
“Sometimes I pray,” Connor admitted freely. “Do you mind?”
“Who do you pray too?” Willie asked curiously.
Willie put on his most respectful face and shut his eyes. “Go ahead, I’m ready.”
Connor began, “Dear Heavenly Father, I am not sure why I feel uncomfortable but I’m ask ‘in you to be with us during the Bachelor party. This night is supposed to be a celebration for Dad and Peggy. Please make it a really special evening for them, in Jesus name, amen.”
Daisy said, “Amen,” then she looked up at Connor. “We can suggest going to the beach later. Maybe God will make an opportunity for that.”
“We have tons of beach chairs in our backyard. Do you want to bring ’em?” Willie offered.
Connor’s eyes suddenly lit up. “Yea, let’s do that.”
They followed Willie into the kitchen where Cora was busily baking. “Mom, can we take the beach chairs? We’re gonna suggest going to the beach after bowling.”
“That’s fine. But I want them back in the yard by tomorrow. Are you still spending the night with Connor?”
“Okay then, I will see you and the chairs tomorrow.”
Connor, Daisy and Grace followed Willie into his backyard.
Connor’s eyes enlarged. “WOW! How come you have so many chairs?”
“My Dad’s construction crew has cookouts over here. Dad needs a lot of chairs for that.” Willie started folding chairs and piling them on the porch.
“Your Dad has a construction crew of his own? That’s good to know.” Connor tucked that piece of information away in his head for safe keeping as he carried chairs off to the car.
The girls stood by the car and packed the chairs nice and tight in the trunk as Connor brought them out.
After several trips back and forth, all the chairs were packed away. Connor opened the car door. “In you go.”
Daisy climbed in the front and selected a good CD while Willie and Grace slid into the back. It was no longer raining so they rolled down the windows to enjoy the fresh air. “Look how clear the sky is now. It probably will be full of stars later on.” Daisy admired the fresh new sky with wonder. “Isn’t it weird how it can be pouring cats and dogs one minute and the next minute be so clear?”
“Yea, weird.” Connor admired the sky with her.
When they arrived at the bowling alley, they parked and strolled inside.
Inside, they were surprised to find Davis, already in a heated argument.
“Who’s that giving your Dad a hard time?” Willie whispered.
“Allen, he’s a new guy on the team. He’s the one who was supposed to arrange the party. Dad was afraid Allen would plan something he wouldn’t like. That’s why he wanted Peggy and the ladies to come along.” Connor’s bad feeling was now confirmed.“Let’s go help Dad out.” They approached the argument cautiously.
“Davis, get rid of all these ladies and family people,” Allen murmured rudely. “They can find other things to do tonight.”
“It’s my party. These are my friends. I want ’em here,” Davis murmured back with irritation.
“It’s a bachelor party for crying out loud! A-bach-e-lor-par-ty! That means only bachelors come. I have more than just bowling planned,” Allen tried to explain without giving his plan entirely away.
“I know what bachelor party means and that ain’t it. It means, I’m a bachelor and this is my party. I told you the other night, I didn’t want to see any belly dance ‘in,” Davis reminded him through clenched teeth.
“They aren’t belly dancers. They’re exotic dancers. I handpicked ’em myself. You’ll love ’em if you don’t have all these family members breathing down your neck.”Allen rolled his eyes. “My God, look at these people. Who’s that? Your grandmother? Come on Davis. It’s guys night out, man.”
“That, is Grandma Rose. She is very important to me and Peggy.” Davis crossed his arms like an ancient iron soldier.
“Grandma who? Crap, Davis.” He tried not to let his voice be heard by the others milling around, but it was too late. Everyone knew he’d done something Davis didn’t agree with, even if they didn’t know exactly what it was.
“Allen you have truly missed the train here. I thought you knew me better than this. In all my single days, I never was interested in the sort of thing you’re push ‘in, and I’m not going to start now that I’m getting married!” Davis fumed.
Allen turned and looked at George. “Come on, George! Remember when we used to go bar hop ‘in together? Some of these girls are really hot!”
George rubbed his head. “Allen I told you not to do this. Why didn’t you listen to me? I don’t do those kinds of things anymore. I’m with Davis on this. You messed it up, now fix it.”
“I thought you were just, you know, trying to keep up a good image.” Allen combed his fingers through his hair and wagged his head. “I doled out a lot of money for these girls to come here tonight,” he moaned in disappointment.
“I told you, I didn’t want it. We came to bowl and that is all we are doing,” Davis declared. “That’s final.”
“I rented this whole building myself, and I paid for these girls to come. It’s my money. I’m financially bound already. Come on Davis,” he moaned. “It is just one night of wild fun and then you can go back to your straight-laced family,” he pleaded hopelessly.
Davis looked at his son. “Connor, help me out here.”
“I have a better idea.” He saw his opportunity and went for it.
“What’s that son?”
“Let Allen stay here with his dancers and whoever else wants to join him. Since he paid for it all, let him have his fun. But the rest of us, we can go down to the beach.” He smiled as the impression in his heart was unfolding before his eyes.
“The beach,” Davis repeated.
“Yea, the beach. It stopped raining. I have a ton of beach chairs in the trunk of my car right now. We can watch the ocean and the stars and hang out at the beach together. There are lots of shops to eat from too.”
Davis smiled a smile of appreciation at his clear minded son. Then he turned his attention back to his bowling buddy. “You know Allen, I like my straight-laced family. We’re going to the beach. You and your friends can stay here and have fun.” Davis turned around and walked to the door. Davis’s family and friends followed him.
In the parking lot, Davis gave Connor a big bear hug. “You saved a marriage that I don’t even fully have yet.” He chuckled at how funny that sounded.
“Coach Peggy is pretty tough. It’s not good to upset her.” Connor knew full well his Coaches’ temper. He’d experienced her wrath a time or two during school practices. It was not fun.
“Smart boy,” Peggy agreed with his insight.
“Hey there, Cindy.” George playfully bumped Cindy Victor in the side with his shoulder. “Would you like to ride with me?” He smiled his very best smile for her as he made his offer.
“That would be lovely George, thank you.”
George politely stuck his elbow out and Cindy took his arm. He walked her over to his car and helped her in.
Andy was watching them from the passenger side of Maria’s car. He grinned at his mother with new hope in his heart.
“They make a cute couple, don’t they?” Maria admired Cindy and George from the driver seat next to Andy.
“Yep, George treats mom real nice. I like that,” he said softly.
Suddenly, an elated Davis pulled out of the parking lot, honking his horn loudly over and over again. All of his friends raced out after him, honking joyfully just like he had done. The long caravan of friends breezed down the highway towards the boardwalk, emancipated.
When they arrived at the beach, the sun was just beginning to set. Beautiful pastel shades drifted lightly downward to meet the horizon. The sky softly glowed at the prospects of a marriage on the way. The air was warm and fresh smelling after the earlier torrents had washed away the grime and toil of past days. The tranquil atmosphere of the beach sunset was the perfect romantic setting for Davis and his party to relax and enjoy each other’s company.
In a lighthearted, flirty manner, they teased and chatted with one another as they lined up at Connor’s car to get a chair. “Great idea,” each man said as they walked off with a gal on one arm and a chair under the other.
At the end of the process, Connor grabbed the very last chair and turned to Daisy. “Well babe, I guess we’re sharing.” He slammed the trunk shut and lightly threw his arm around her shoulder. “Let’s get something to eat. I’m starving!”
They strolled lazily down the boardwalk checking out the shops, trying to decide what they wanted to eat. They spotted several of their friends also buying food from the shops. “I guess everybody is hungry now,” Connor noticed.
“Yea, it’s dinner time.” The atmosphere of the place was having a relaxing effect on Daisy now. “I think this is my favorite place in the whole world.” She leaned on his side and sighed.
“Mine too,” he said as they stepped up to the shop they wanted. They purchased two cups of Yakitori Chicken then wandered over to the family table. Connor leaned the beach chair he had been carrying against the side of the table and sat down next to Daisy.
“Look at that sunset,” Mrs. Langley sighed in Mr. Langley’s direction. Everyone stopped eating and watched the sunset from the picnic tables.
“That has got to be the most beautiful sight in the whole wide world,” Peggy added dreamily.
Davis put his arm around Peggy’s shoulder and relaxed with her. He played with her hair and whispered in her ear. She blushed an unbelievable shade red while he did it too.
Connor chuckled when he saw it. He enjoyed watching his Dad flirt. He was a bit rusty and rather old-fashioned in his manner but that made it all the more fun to watch.“That’s how it ought to be,” Connor whispered to Daisy next to him.
Daisy leaned on Connor’s shoulder again, contentedly watching Davis flirt with his bride to be, the sunset and her friends. “What a perfect night.”
Once the sun went down, everyone finished their food and walked down to the water’s edge to set up the beach chairs. Connor situated himself in his chair next to Willie and Grace then he reached his arms out for Daisy. “Come on girl.” She came and snuggled down in his lap.
The ocean water was now like glass after the downpour earlier in the day. It was so still you almost felt you could ice skate on it. The light of the stars and moon reflected perfectly in the mirror like water. The stars overhead twinkled their praise to the One who made them. The couples quietly chatted and flirted with their partners as the hours passed into the late night.
When different ones were ready to go home they folded their chairs up and left them at Willie’s feet saying, “Thank you, good night.”
Connor held Daisy, quietly enjoying the ocean view. He did not want to go home. Willie, Grace, Connor and Daisy were left alone on the starlit beach.
Willie leaned a little towards Connor. “Hey man, I have a question.”
“Well, um, you prayed tonight and um… you knew this bowling party was going to be a problem. I can see that and it’s great, but my question is this. How come you didn’t know that Jeremiah’s party was going to be a problem? How come that happened?” Willie asked seriously.
Connor looked over at Willie. “That’s a good question. The only thing I can say is I had not really asked Jesus into my life until Thanksgiving. Jeremiah’s party happened before that,” Connor paused and reflected for a moment. Then he decided to add a bit more to his answer. “To be honest, I did know that Jeremiah’s party was going to be a problem. That’s why I told Daisy to stay home, but I thought I could handle it myself. I thought I had good control of myself, but I was wrong. I did something wrong. I don’t want to do that again. I am a better listener now, and God is helping me stay out of trouble.”
Willie nodded his head in acceptance. “That’s cool.”
Daisy’s head began to roll on Connor’s chest. He caught it gently and tried to prop her up better in his lap. “Crap, she’s such a heavy sleeper.” He chuckled softly at her tender state. Her head bobbed again and again. He caught it but still she was getting heavy. “Hey Willie, are you ready to go?”
Willie looked over at Grace. She had also fallen asleep in her chair. “Yea, we better go.”