Chapter 7 – The Day

With arrangements and other activities taking place, four weeks pass by quickly as Jacky and the others are racing for time to pull together Brent’s wedding. Their hard work finally pays off since the wedding unfolds quite nicely with the scene looking quite enchanting for such an event.
Jacky’s standing at the west side of the garden, giving directions to the entertainer while they still have a few minutes to spare before the official ceremony begins.
“Try that again,” Jacky commanded.
The guy in a light-blue shirt does as he was instructed.
“No, that doesn’t sound right. Maybe a bit lower.”
“You’re picky, man. Showtime is in five minutes and you still want me to change my routine.”
“I love challenges,” Jacky said, smiling with mischievous eyes.
“You’re pushing your luck,” The guy warned Jacky.
A girl comes up to them at that time.
“Hurry up! They’re waiting for you, Young Master Chu,” She informed him with much impatience.
“I’ll be there in five,” Jacky sad calmly.
“Ge! We don’t have time!” The girl nagged, tugging on his suit’s sleeve.
“Tell Wei Ru to cover for me.”
“What? You’re insane.”
He doesn’t clarify his sanity, but turns to the guy in light blue shirt instead. “You know what? It sounds better before.”
“I told you, didn’t I?” The guy said in an as a matter-of-fact tone.
“It was a good experiment though,” Jacky said, shrugging his shoulders.
The guy in blue shirt shakes his head. Jacky smiles.
“Ge! Hurry!” The girl nagged again, tugging on his sleeve like before.
“Okay, Britt,” Jacky said, turning to her again. “You’re starting to act like…”
“What?” Brittney asked, pasting on her challenging look.
“No. Never mind. Let’s go.”
Jacky and Brittney walk past the lawn area and towards the center of the whole scene. The guy in the blue shirt is still tagging along with them.
The others look at them as they walk past, whispering among themselves.
When they’re closer to their target, Brittney speaks up again.
“Did you hear what they’re saying?” Brittney asked Jacky. “That’s just weird.”
“Why weird?” The guy in blue shirt interfered. “You mean my pal here doesn’t look like the groom? I swear he looks more like the groom than the groom.” Then he turns to Jacky, exclaiming out, “I told you not to wear white!”
“You expect me to wear red?” Jacky asked, playing dumb.
“It’s a wedding, don’t overdo it if you’re not the groom,” The guy said, rolling his eyes.
“Would you two stop?” Brittney jumped in.
“Calm down, little one,” Jacky said, ruffling Brittney’s hair. “It’s someone’s wedding today. You shouldn’t be so irritated.”
“Ge, I just had my hair done,” Brittney said, trying to straighten her hair out again.
“I don’t see any difference,” The guy in blue shirt commented after glancing at Brittney’s hair briefly.
Brittney glares at the guy, annoyed. The guy just smiles teasingly back at her.
“Okay, here we are,” Jacky said, breaking up their staring contest. “Places everyone.”
“Thank god, you’re here,” Wei Ru said in relief as she sees the three walking up to her.
“Missed me?” Jacky asked, smiling.
“Get serious, Mr. Chu. We have to get moving. The ceremony starts like – right now.”
“All right,” Jacky said in a serious tone, turning to the guy in blue shirt. “Yu Rong…”
“I know, I know,” Yu Rong jumped in before Jacky could say further.
Everyone goes to their pre-planned territory and the ceremony is about to begin.
About fifteen minutes later, Yu Rong has finished with his first performance and is chatting away with Xiao Jie in the waiting room in the back area of the park.
“This is amazing. How did you do it?” Xiao Jie asked, her eyes filled with curiosity.
“Pretty impressive, right?” Yu Rong said with a smile. “I know you would like it.”
“No problem.”
Darren, who’s sitting nearby, clears his throat loudly.
“Do you need water?” Xiao Jie asked, looking in his direction. “You don’t sound so good. Must be the weather, right?”
“I think he needs…” Yu Rong mumbled, faking a cough before he goes on. “… you more.”
“What?” Xiao Jie asked, confused.
“Nothing,” Yu Rong muttered.
“Aren’t you supposed to go on stage again in five minutes?” Darren asked, turning his attention on Yu Rong.
“Jacky’s covering for me,” Yu Rong said.
“He sings?” Darren asked, surprised.
“Of course he sings. What are you talking about? I thought you knew him. Or at least your whole family does.”
“I never knew he sings either,” Xiao Jie said.
“Probably he doesn’t do it around you guys yet,” Yu Rong explained. “Must not be so close to you guys after all. I still have hope.”
“Hope?” Darren asked, giving Yu Rong a strange look.
“My buddy still keeps some secrets towards you guys so that means he hasn’t totally forgotten himself yet. I’m still his pal after all.”
“You’re too weird, man.”
“You should get back on stage, Ehlo,” Xiao Jie reminded him after glancing at her watch.
“Okay then. See you two later,” Ehlo said, getting up.
Jacky walks in at that time while Ehlo’s walking towards the door.
“I’m coming, man. Stop watching over me like I’m a five years old kid,” Ehlo said, half irritated and half in a kidding mode.
“No need to go anymore,” Jacky said back.
“Why not? They had enough of me?”
“I just found someone like five minutes back so I told him to cover for you.”
“What? Are you crazy? I know you since we’re…. The point is: you’re pushing your luck a lot nowadays.”
“He’s good.”
“Enough for this wedding?”
Jacky pulls Ehlo aside and away from Xiao Jie and Darren before saying, “No one wants to make this wedding that good. And stop mentioning how ‘good’ this wedding is.”
“Why are you whispering?” Ehlo asked loudly.
“Go get your break, man. I’m back to center area.”
“Wait!” Ehlo called out as Jacky’s about to turn left.
“What?” Jacky asked, turning around to face Ehlo again.
“I want to see how good that guy is,” Ehlo replied, walking towards Jacky.
“Afraid that you’re going to be replaced soon?” Jacky asked, smiling mischievously.
“No way. I’m just curious.”
As they’re arguing about this issue, Xiao Jie and Darren look after them.
“They look like brothers, man,” Xiao Jie commented.
Darren doesn’t say anything.
“What’s wrong?” Xiao Jie asked, turning to Darren with a smile on her face.
“The way you look at Ehlo….” Darren started.
“What?” Xiao Jie pursued, wrinkling her face.
“Nothing,” Darren muttered, shaking his head.
About twenty minutes later, Jacky and Ehlo come back to the waiting room again. They’re engaged in conversation about the guy Jacky just hired.
“That guy is pretty good actually,” Ehlo admitted, nodding his head. “He needs some work though. Where did you find him?”
“In the crowd,” Jacky replied briefly.
“What?!? You’re kidding me.”
“No. He was looking for a job since he heard there’s a wedding today. He had his guitar with him so I gave him a chance. He was prepared since he had some pretty good wedding songs memorized already.”
“You’re insane, man…” Ehlo said before finishing. “… like always.”
“It worked, didn’t it?” Jacky asked, smiling.
“What are two talking about?” Wei Ru asked as she’s walking by them.
“The new guy Fan Gang just hired,” Ehlo explained, giving Wei Ru a charming smile in the process.
“What?!?” Wei Ru asked in alarm, turning to Jacky. “You hired someone?”
“Relax. It’s out of my pocket,” Jacky reassured her.
“No, it’s not that. That would throw Xiao Jie’s schedule off though.”
“Schedules are meant to be fixed,” Jacky and Ehlo rattled out at the same time.
Wei Ru wrinkles her face at them.
“It’s fine. I’ll just arrange the entertainment part back and forth. We’re still on time for the rest,” Jacky said.
“Okay then,” Wei Ru said, sounding not so anxious anymore.
“Want to go get something to drink so you wouldn’t be so stressed out, little lady?” Ehlo asked Wei Ru, flashing on his charming smile again.
“I have to get back to the center area again,” Jacky said, eyeing Ehlo.
“Shall we…” Ehlo asked, turning to Wei Ru.
“Umm…I’ll go with you,” Wei Ru said hesitantly.
“Let’s go then,” Ehlo said, smiling still.
“No, I meant with Fan Gang,” Wei Ru clarified.
“Come on then,” Jacky said.
Wei Ru follows Jacky towards the center area. She scans the crowd slowly and suddenly feels a sense of agoraphobia growing upon her. Her steps slow down a bit. Jacky turns towards her direction and sees her strange expression. He eyes the crowd and guesses her overwhelming feeling of it. He reaches over and takes her left hand in his right and pulls her forward. Wei Ru snaps to alertness again and looks at Jacky. She gives him a sweet smile, showing her gratitude. Jacky smiles back and continues on his way.
“Hey, Jacky,” A guy in white shirt called out as he’s walking towards the podium.
“Doing okay out here?” Jacky asked, adjusting the microphone at the same time.
“Want to do another song?”
“Doesn’t seem like they like me much,” The guy said in a hesitant tone, looking around the crowd.
“It’s a wedding. They’re not supposed to like you. Today’s stars are the happily married couple.”
“You’re…uh….” The guy hesitated since he doesn’t want to offend Jacky.
“Strange? Bizarre? Eccentric? Unpredictable? Out of line?” Jacky offered.
The guy still doesn’t respond.
“No, I’m serious. If you want attention towards yourself, go to a club or maybe try going on events that are especially planned for singers.”
The guy smiles finally, silently agreeing with Jacky’s logic. Then he notices Wei Ru for the first time.
“Your girlfriend?” The guy asked, gesturing towards Wei Ru.
“No,” Jacky answered, looking at Wei Ru. “Soon to be.”
Wei Ru looks at him strange.
“All right. Back to your place down there,” Jacky told the guy. “I’ll do a quick poll before I get you back on.”
Jacky taps the micro slightly, sending feedbacks around the area. Some people cover their ears in irritation. Jacky smiles since he got the exact result he wanted.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Jacky began. “I would like to do a quick poll. How many of you want to hear Ehlo perform next?”
Over half of the crowd raises their hands.
“How about Johnny down there?” Jacky asked, pointing to the guy in white shirt as he says his name.
Their hands were randomly raised, mostly scattered throughout the area.
“Totally unexpected since I saw that the majority of you were cheering for Johnny earlier, even louder than when Ehlo did his songs,” Jacky commented.
“I thought you meant tell Ehlo to come up and do some jokes for us. You didn’t say ‘sing’ so I didn’t know,” Someone in the crowd spoke up.
“Same here,” Someone else jumped in.
The murmurs accelerate and spread throughout the crowd.
Jacky taps on the microphone again, sending yet another echo of feedbacks to travel around the area.
“Ladies and gentlemen, looks like I should clarify myself,” Jacky spoke up once more. “I was asking which one you want to sing for you, not juggle some bean bags for you.”
At that time, the crowd erupts into madness again. From what Jacky could make out – Johnny’s name surfaces for the most part.
“Johnny, come on up again,” Jacky said, gesturing towards Johnny.” Congrats! You just earned your reputation.”
After Jacky hands it over to Johnny, he walks with Wei Ru to the back area again. The whole time, he’s still holding her hand, which she doesn’t mind for some reason.
Jacky walks back to the waiting room to find Ehlo chatting up a conversation with Xiao Jie again.
“Looks like you need to switch over to comedy,” Jacky said as he sat down at a spot next to Ehlo.
“Why?” Ehlo asked, turning to Jacky.
“You just lost to Johnny. The crowd was…”
“They can’t see talent even if it jumps in front of their face.”
“Why do I detect a sour odor surfacing like you’re…”
“I’m not jealous.”
“Are you sure?”
“More at you than at him.”
Ehlo tilts his head towards Jacky’s right hand that’s still holding onto Wei Ru’s left hand.
“It’s a dangerous world out there,” Jacky said, sounding somewhat defensive.
“Protecting your treasure?” Ehlo asked.
Jacky smiles.
“It’s only a month and you two are…” Xiao Jie stopped in mid-sentence, flashing out her usual mischievous smile.
Wei Ru suddenly yanks her hand away.
“I’m just kidding,” Jacky said, turning to Wei Ru.
“She’s just shy. Don’t worry,” Xiao Jie jumped in before Wei Ru could say anything.
Wei Ru walks over to a chair and sits next to Xiao Jie.
Jacky is about to say something else, but his cell phone rings.
Before Jacky could say hello or anything, a voice booms loudly into his ear. He has to yank the phone out of his ear to reduce the pain.
“What?” He asked when he finally got a chance to speak. “Repeat it again. Slowly and…a bit softer.”
“We need you in front. Hurry!” A guy’s voice travelled across the way.
“I said explain, not give me orders,” Jacky said, sounding and looking irritated.
“NOW!!!!” The guy on the other side screeched.
“All right! All right! Sheesh,” Jacky said, pulling the phone away from his ear again.
Jacky slams his phone shut and walks out the door.
“What’s wrong?” Wei Ru asked, standing up and making her way towards him.
“Someone talking gibberish telling me to go out front quick.”
“You better stay. It doesn’t sound good. Yu Rong…”
“I know…” Ehlo said, getting up to follow Jacky.
“No,” Jacky interrupted, extending his hand to stop Ehlo. “Just stay away from my girl.”
Jacky is already out the door when he said “my girl” so no one could object.
Ehlo turns to look at Wei Ru real quick. Wei Ru sees that and begins to walk away from the area. Although Xiao Jie’s here, but she still doesn’t trust Ehlo.
Jacky comes back about twenty minutes later. As he walks by, he sees Wei Ru leaning on the window sill. He snaps his fingers in front of her face. She smiles at him.
“What’s wrong?” Jacky said, giving her a smile back.
“Nothing. Just bored,” She said.
“Yu Rong didn’t bother you, did he?” Jacky asked with concern.
“No,” She answered, shaking her head.
Jacky continues to walk to the front door.
“What happened?” Xiao Jie asked as she sees him at the door.
Wei Ru’s walking back to the table where Xiao Jie is sitting with Ehlo.
“Mr. Groom pulled a mood swing on his wedding day,” Jacky said.
The others wait quietly for Jacky to elaborate.
“Apparently, someone made a mistake on the cake and it ended up saying ‘Hope you have a peaceful rest’ instead of…” Jacky explained.
Before Jacky could finish, Ehlo is choking with laughter.
“If you think it’s funny, you should have dealt with it,” Jacky said with some mockery mixed in with irritation.
“How could that possibly happened?” Xiao Jie asked, taken aback. “We went to check on it last week one last time already. The designs were exactly like what was requested. And they confirmed with us that it would be delivered on time.”
“Someone did the switch last week while we were checking,” Jacky said.
“How do you know?”
“I didn’t pay attention before but someone faked the stomachache and double back to the cake shop.”
Xiao Jie, her eyes moving back and forth, tries to remember.
“Darren?” Xiao Jie asked as her eyes brighten with realization.
Jacky nods.
“How could he do that? We’d been working so hard.”
“It’s his own special present for the ‘groom’.”
“That rat!” Xiao Jie exclaimed with both disbelief and frustration. “No wonder he isn’t around much since the last hour.”
“Who would stick around if they know something’s going to happen?”
“I’ll go look for him,” Wei Ru said, getting up from her seat.
“No need,” Jacky said, grabbing her left hand as she walks by him. “What is done is done already. We can look for him later. Besides…” A grin forming on his face as he says the following words, “It was really hilarious seeing Mr. Groom’s face when he showed me the cake.”
Jacky lets go of Wei Ru’s hand and sits down next to Ehlo.
“You know what he said to me?” Jacky asked, turning to Ehlo.
“What kind of sick joke are you guys pulling here?” Ehlo guessed.
“No. He said ‘Is this called professionalism to you?’ I knew he meant our inability to stop someone from messing with our orders, but I played dumb and said ‘I think the cake said – Hope you have a peaceful rest – and not…’ I couldn’t finish since he looked annoyed.”
“I can’t believe you’re like that too!” Xiao Jie said, eyeing Jacky suspiciously.
“He’s my best friend, so what do you think?” Ehlo asked rhetorically, turning to her.
Wei Ru looks at Jacky with a disappointed look.
Jacky snaps back to playing cool. He clears his throat before saying, “I better get back and wrap the show up. The rest of the night is theirs to do whatever they want – like what Mr. Groom wants.”
“You mean Mr. Gloom?” Ehlo asked with a glint of mischief in his eyes.
Jacky’s about to laugh, but he doesn’t want another disapproving look from Wei Ru so he tries real hard to hold it back.
“I’ll be back in thirty minutes and we can go,” Jacky said as he gets up.
“Can I…” Wei Ru started.
“Yea. If you want,” Jacky answered. “But I can warn Yu Rong.”
“I’ll behave myself,” Ehlo volunteered, grinning. “Stay!”
“I don’t trust his grin,” Jacky said, recognizing that particular grin. “Come on.”
He grabs Wei Ru’s hand and disappears out of sight again.
“They’re so cute together. I wish they would stop denying it,” Xiao Jie said after the two disappeared completely out of sight.
“Fan Gang’s not denying it. In fact, he’s a lot more open about it than he used to be about who he likes,” Ehlo said.
“Serious. He used to be so cold that I don’t think girls would come near him.”
“So you’re saying Wei Ru changed him?”
“No. He’s always the same as I see him, but he never acted the way he feels in the past, except in front of me. Maybe family pressures.”
Xiao Jie nods.
“I guess breaking from his family and coming here is a good idea,” Ehlo commented.
They stay quiet for a few minutes, not knowing what to say. Xiao Jie’s suddenly deep in thoughts again. Ehlo is humming a song.
“The weather’s pretty good today actually,” Xiao Jie spoke up suddenly.
Ehlo doesn’t know where that came from, but replies anyway. “Yea. Good weather for a little picnic. Want to go later?”
“The day’s almost over.”
“You’ve been sitting here for most of the day just in case Fan Gang needs any tips. You can prepare the food for us to treat all of us. Besides…”
“What?” Xiao Jie prompted, wondering why Ehlo stopped so abruptly.
Ehlo pauses because he sees Darren walking in.
© March 23rd, 2007
Re-posted: Saturday, February 20th, 2010