Wed, White & Blue
by Sarah Eakin
The Principal Characters
Sterling (aka Matthew Johnson)
Savannah Jackson (Sterling’s half-sister)
Charles ‘Charlie’ Fanshawe
Ginny (Sterling’s friend)
Carole Dubois (Charlie’s mother)
Henrietta Lawton-Smythe (Charlie’s friend)
Philippa ‘Pip’ Fanshawe (Charlie’s sister)
Robert (Charlie’s ex)
Oscar the Jack Russell (aka Edgar)
Billy (a Texas polo player)
Consuela (a Mexican housekeeper)
Pierre Dubois (Charlie’s French father-in-law)
Earl of Fanshawe ‘George’ (Charlie’s father)
Rover (Sterling’s pit bull)
Sterling stood in the hotel room and stared in the mirror. He licked his finger and wiped away the smudged mascara below his eye, smearing it on the towel wrapped around his waist that he’d taken from Charlie’s bathroom. Waking up in the same bed as Charlie had spawned panic. He had carefully maneuvered himself off the bed and picked up his sequined dress, thigh highs, heels and fake boobs. His panic increased while searching for his wig and trying to collect the dollar bills that had fallen out of his clothing. He shoved as many of them as he could under the bed – hell someone might as well tip the maid – grabbed the towel tightly and left. Back in his room and staring in the mirror again he wished he’d looked a little harder for the wig so that he could wear it downstairs as a disguise and sneak out of the hotel.
Last night had of course gone according to plan. What bothered him was whether Charlie remembered any of it and if he did, whether it had meant as much to him as it had to Sterling.
There was no more time to think about it. Sterling had a wedding reception to plan and a day to do it.
In Sterling’s mind it was a ‘kill ‘em all let God sort ‘em out’ kind of day as he left the house that morning. Smile and nod at work – yes he was good at that – but when it came to getting there, his temper flared. The day had got off on the wrong foot that morning as his mother sat in her chair announcing in her pajamas, “I don’t want to participate anymore.”
“It’s not the Olympic Games for Lord’s sake,” Sterling had muttered under his breath, knowing with a sigh that it was life she was talking about.
It wasn’t as if she was that old – good grief she didn’t have a patch on the Queen, or the Queen Mother if it came to that. She was still in her 60s, her memory was stuck in the 60s and in her mind that was when her dreams of a medal or at least a decent finish in life had dried up, fizzled out.
She had nodded off in front of the TV. Sterling with control of the remote had found something that checked his gay boxes – a bit like Toddlers and Tiaras, he mused, only without the back stage drama. His mother woke up.
“What the hell are we watching?” she said in bewilderment.
“Good Lord I thought they was drowning. They look like hookers with all that make up on.”
“Okay mom we’ll watch something else,” he sighed.
“No leave it on,” she barked. “I’m interested now. Good Lord!”
He shrugged. She was nothing if not unpredictable at times. It was that quirky personality that had led her down a colorful path – three marriages, two children. But her life was more drama than fairytale and she had long since given up on finding a happy ending to her story, though she had searched quite hard in the bottom of her liter-sized Pinot Grigio bottle most nights.
Sterling quelled his frustration by getting up from his recliner and heading outside on the porch for a cigarette. No wonder I never had any ambition he stewed recalling the times as a teenager when she told him that some people have the starring roles in life and the rest of us, son – the rest of us note – are just filler.
Arriving at the salon, Sterling stubbed his cigarette out in the ashtray of his SUV, trying hard not to resent the fact that the small removable piece of black plastic that had constituted ‘the smoking package’ when he bought the car ten years ago, had added $600 to the price. They get you everywhere he thought to himself. Smoking was for sure an expensive habit.
He also tried to ignore the fact that his car needed a service, the power windows no longer had power and his tires were… well tired and bald, like most of his recent dates. It needed to go on down the road without him but there was no budget for a new one, much as his passion for cars had him leafing through car magazines for hours on end – car porn he called it. His father had been a car dealer and his passion for automobiles had rubbed off on Sterling. It was the only really comforting thing he felt he had in common with his dad. His mom, when he finally came out, had simply said: “Well son, I hope you have more luck with men than I did.”
His father had been less philosophical. This was after all the south. Sterling had after all been raised a Baptist and no matter what brutal fate sinners faced in worshippers’ eyes… judgment day for a homosexual was guaranteed to be ten times worse. Fire and brimstone was probably way too good for them.
Changing his name to Sterling when he left High School and starting training at the beauty salon had been the first signs in the community that there was something ‘wrong’. Baptized in front of the whole of the First Baptist Church of South Oakville congregation Matthew Mark Johnson – only Luke missing – had been the instigation of his grandmother.
A large daunting southern woman who did not suffer fools, ‘Mammet’ ruled the roost and the rooster. Sterling’s grandfather would feign death before he said a contrary word to his wife. When she came in the room the feet would hit the floor at speed having been swiftly moved from the coffee table, backs would be straightened and the dog hurled off the sofa. It wasn’t as if she didn’t know what went on behind her back. But Lord help anyone who dared to disrespect her rules, her house, to her face. Sterling may not have had much growing up, but he had manners, even though there were times when he chose to forget that.
“Hello sunshine,” Savannah smiled. His sister – well half-sister technically, though his mother didn’t ever seem too sure – was in full flow in the salon mixing room at the shop she owned ‘Cut and Pluck’, where Sterling rented a booth. A bright red dye was swirling in the color bowl.
“It’s time,” she bellowed, “time to be fine!” Sterling rolled his eyes – in his mind. He was a little afraid of his sister too at times and when she was in this kind of mood – I am going to be beautiful no matter what – he knew better than to question. Her plus-size frame filled the small back room and Sterling decided there was nothing for it but to step outside and smoke. Text and smoke – that was his release.
As he closed the door he stuck a Marlboro red in his mouth – if you’re going to smoke you might as well smoke the real thing he always thought. He looked up at the sky and sighed, turned and went to go back inside when the sign above the shop caught his eye. He opened the door, walked past Savannah and stopped in front of a mirror shaping his bangs with his fingers.
“You might want to take a look at the front of the shop,” he said as he directed his eyes to the door. Savannah threw a towel on her head and went out. Two seconds later she was back, her face the same color as the intended color of her hair. Sterling turned away and smiled, amused at the local comedian who had overnight replaced a couple of letters with an ‘F’ – ‘Cut and Fuck’ the sign now read. How much more convenient that kind of salon would be, he thought, reflecting on the fact that he hadn’t had sex – at least with anyone else in the room – for months.
Wed, White & Blue
First of The Sterling Chronicles
Published by White Top Publishing
Copyright © 2016 Sarah Eakin
Sarah Eakin has asserted her right in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the copyright owner. All the characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Copyright © 2016 Sarah Eakin.