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Wedding Night Blues

Written by:
Cousin Paula Wilshe

Balki Bartokomous looked around the apartment and allowed a feeling of sadness to wash over him.  As happy as he had been for his Cousin Larry at Larry's wedding, he realized the moment he returned home alone that things would never really be the same again.  Everywhere he looked there were traces of Larry's presence, and Balki found memories cascading upon him -- the prom Larry had given him when Balki graduated from high school, Larry's crazed search for the coveted Lowell Kelly poem, the medicinal Myposian plant that had once festooned almost the entire kitchen....  Balki blinked his eyes quickly and tried to tell himself that he and Larry would still see each other often, that this was a beginning and not an ending, but the stubborn feelings of loneliness persisted.  He wished he could call Larry to tell him how he was feeling but that was impossible as his cousin was at that moment in a plane heading for his honeymoon with Jennifer, his bride of a few hours.

Amazingly enough, although the wedding had been the prime topic of conversation in the Appleton-Bartokomous household for the past few months, Balki had not previously given any thought to how he would face this particular moment.  He'd been too caught up in wedding preparations and the natural state of chaotic activity revolving around such an event.

Balki carried his bag into his room and carefully hung up the tux in the closet.  Deciding that perhaps a cup of hot chocolate would make him feel better, he started out of his bedroom door to go to the kitchen.  He was stopped in his tracks by the sight of Larry's open bedroom door.  The bed, neatly made in Larry's usual style, held an uncharacteristic pile of discarded clothing -- items that had been considered and rejected for pre-wedding and honeymoon wear.  Knowing that these and all of Larry's other possessions would soon be neatly packed and transported to Larry and Jennifer's new apartment, Balki gazed at them sadly for a while, then slowly pulled the door closed.

As he walked toward the kitchen, his reverie was interrupted by the ring of the telephone, and Balki hurried to answer the kitchen extension.  Maybe it was Mary Anne, he thought hopefully, and she'd come down for a visit.

"Hello?"

"Hi, Balki."

Although he knew that the voice unmistakably belonged to Cousin Larry, the call was so completely unexpected that Balki was rendered speechless for a second.

"Balki?  Are you there?"

"Cousin?  Is that you?" Balki asked.  Suddenly fearing the reason for the call, he continued, "What's wrong?  Where are you?"

"Balki, relax," Larry soothed.  "Everything's all right.  We're still at the airport -- our flight was delayed."

"Well . . . did you forget something?"

"No, no, nothing like that . . . . "  Larry's voice trailed off.

"Then what?" Balki persisted, still fearing that there was some underlying problem that Larry was hesitant to discuss.

"Well, I . . . um," Larry stammered.  "I just . . . everything happened so fast today that I . . . "

"That you what?"

"Well, I never got to thank you for everything you did."

"What everything?" Balki asked, honestly confused.

"Everything.  Helping with the wedding, always being there for me . . . you're the best friend anyone could ever have, and I wanted you to know how much you mean to me."  Larry cleared his throat and continued.  "I mean, now that I'm married and moving and all, things won't be the same as they've been, but . . . I'll always feel the same way about you and I want you to know that we'll always be close, no matter where we're living."

"Oh, Cousin . . . . " Balki smiled, relieved.  "Thank you.  I'm so glad you called because, you know, ever since I got here I've been feeling homesick, which is ridiculous because I am home, and then I realized it was because I was looking at your room and knowing that I'm never going to live with you again and . . . . " Balki paused.  " . . . anyway, Cousin, I feel the same way, and I hope you and Cousin Jennifer have the most wonderful trip in the world."

"Thanks, buddy," Larry said quietly, and in that moment Balki wondered how he could ever have been worried that things would change between them.  "Anyway," Larry went on,  "We'll be home next week.  How would you and Mary Anne like to come to dinner to celebrate our first night in our new apartment?"

"That would be great, Cousin.  I'll tell Mary Anne.  Oh, and Cousin, about the new apartment -- did you remember to . . . ?"

"Oh, Balki, I've got to go . . . they're calling our flight," Larry interrupted.

"Yes, but Cousin!  The new apartment.  Did you . . . ?"

"Balki," Larry said with a touch of annoyance in his voice, "I have to hang up or I'm going to miss my plane."

"Okay, yes, I know, but did you . . . ?"

"Have a great week and we'll see you when we get home.  I'll send you a postcard, okay?"

Balki gave up.  "Okay.  Have fun!"  Balki hung up the phone, suddenly feeling calm and no longer unsettled.  Although he'd been unable to ask Larry if he had indeed remembered to put the deposit down on his and Jennifer's new apartment, he dismissed the thought from his mind.  Surely Cousin Larry, master of the clipboard, would never forget something as important as that.

Balki pulled the tin of cocoa from the cupboard and reached into a nearby drawer for a spoon.  He smiled contentedly.  Everything was going to be fine.

THE END