Lana walks in the door and sees Bettina reading on the couch, waiting up for her. Lana goes right to her room and changes into her pajamas. She notices that her dress is cleaned and hanging on the door of her closet. She pulls out her clothes for the next day and arranges them, sets her alarm, and then goes into the bathroom to brush her teeth. Finally she comes out to sit with Bettina on the couch. Simon and Riley are in town. They stopped by. I told them that you were working at Auggies. Did they come see you? Lana nods. Riley drank too much. He broke up with his girlfriend, Bettina replies. Simon says that he’s infatuated with you. Lana hangs her head. What happened with Simon? She asks Bettina. I didn’t want to talk with Riley around so I asked him to run with me tomorrow. Lana nods. That explains why he wasn’t drinking with Riley. Lana, they’re renting a place a couple blocks away. Lana starts giggling with her eyes closed. How was it with Raul? Poor guy, Lana says. The hostess was so relieved to see him. A full house and one of the waiters didn’t show. And two others walked off the job just before we got there. He was ready to pull the fire alarm, Lana says chuckling. But it worked out. We got to do something together as a team. And Bettina, I made a lot of money in tips. Did you eat? I didn’t have a moment to sit down, it was that packed. Order up, cleaning tables, refills, and getting the checks. Oh, sweetie. Raul and I had a bowl of clam chowder after we closed; it was nice. Lana yawns. Are we doing anything tomorrow night? Bettina asks. I’d rather stay in, Lana replies.
Late the next afternoon, Bettina walks the two blocks to Simon and Riley's rental duplex. She rings the doorbell. Riley answers the door. Hello, neighbor. She tells him as she hands him a big Tupperware container. I made you some carrot cake cupcakes, my girlfriend Toni’s secret recipe. Where is my knight errant? Still recovering from his exertions. She nods. Will you go to church with Simon and I tomorrow? Sure. My dad and I will stop by to pick you guys up around 10:20 then. We’re buying lunch after at the Olive Garden. Sounds great. Is Lana coming? Separately. When Simon gets up, can we stop over later? Of course. What should we bring? An empty container, she says pointing at the Tupperware.
There’s knock on the door as Lana and Bettina are eating dinner. Who is it? Sam and Ramon. Bettina opens the door wearing cropped wide leg lounge pants. Hello, Sam. She says. We just thought we’d pop in to see if you wanted to join us for dinner, Sam tells her. Actually, we were just eating. We’ve extra, if you want to join us. They follow Bettina into the kitchen and see that Lana already has set the table with two more plates. That looks delicious, Ramon admits. Bettina dishes up turkey, corn, and mashed potatoes, while Lana pours two glasses of skim milk.
So…Ramon says grinning at Lana, when everyone sits down to eat; we didn’t see you last night at the play. How was it? Lana asks Sam. Let me put it this way, Sam says, I’d rather wait tables and escort drunks to the bathroom, than have to suffer through that again. It was awful. I’m not talking the acting; I’m talking the subject matter. Such a downer. Did it give you a lot to talk about after? Bettina asks. Sam and Ramon look at each other. It turns out we each endured it for the other, Sam tells Bettina.
Ramon stares at Lana as she eats. I want to buy you a new car, he tells her. Lana looks down at her plate. Thank you, she replies, with her head still down. Lana makes her own money, Don Ramon, Bettina tells him. Do you think that Jax didn’t try to get her to trade in Purple? Lana keeps her head down. She knows what she wants and is saving up to buy it with cash. What do you have in mind, Lana? Sam asks. A used Mazda 3 hatchback with a six speed manual transmission. It’ll be nice to have four doors, since I actually have friends now, Lana says, looking between Bettina and Samantha.
There’s a pounding on the door. Police, open the door, or we’ll break it down. Simon yells. Lana laughs. I’ll get it, she tells Bettina. Lana opens the door and grins at Simon. We’re eating dinner with Sam and Ramon. You’re welcome to join us.
Hello, Simon. Hello, Riley. Bettina chimes as she brings her and Lana’s plate and glasses to the kitchen counter. Have a seat please. Looks good, Simon tells Bettina. I’m stuffed, Bettina. Those cupcakes were amazing, Riley tells her. Want a glass of milk? Lana asks. Please. Want to go for a walk? I need her, Bettina tells Riley. Please sit down. I’ll introduce you to Runt another time, Lana tells Riley.
Bettina dishes up a plate for Simon and puts it in the microwave. Riley, meet Sam. Are you who I think you are? Riley asks her. She raises her eyebrows. Rolf’s girlfriend who took out Buck Neezy’s entourage. Sam doesn’t reply. Simon, this is my fiance, Ramon. He’s the bass guitarist of Uppsala. Everyone but Riley bursts out laughing. Best name ever, Simon announces. Tell me more. What’s your sound? Like ABR, Ramon tells him. Who are they? Riley asks. August Burns Red, Sam replies. It’s a Christian metalcore band. Cool, I’ll check them out, Simon tells Ramon. Which song? The cleans on Ghosts are probably the most accessible, Ramon tells Sam, who nods in agreement. What are cleans? Riley asks. You and I, we were once the same, Ramon tells him. It’ll make sense when you hear the song, Riley, Sam tells him.
Bettina puts Simon’s plate in front of him, and kisses his cheek from behind. I want seconds, Simon quips. Bettina rubs his shoulders, as everyone laughs. So what do you do Riley? Ramon asks. I’m a computer geek, design games. That’s his day job, Simon says. You are in the presence of RileyX, white rapper. Everyone laughs. Did you know that rap stands for rhythm and poetry? Riley asks Sam. I did not, she admits. Lana and Bettina introduced me to Ivan B. We did One Day accapella on the plane. What are you in town for? Ramon asks Riley. I’m here to recruit a new director for my corporate board. Lana has a friend who she recommended to me. Who? Simon asks Lana. Deluca, she tells him. Ramon and Sam look at each other. Do you know him? Riley asks. I met him when I went to night school with Lana, Sam tells Riley. Riley looks over at Lana. Let’s do that; that way I can get a read on him. Lana nods.
My fiance just offered to buy Lana a new car because of what she did for his brother last night. Sam tells Riley. Go big or go home; I like that, Simon tells Ramon. Ramon grins. My brother says that the conduct of one hour may determine the reputation of a lifetime. The hospitality industry is notoriously fickle. You should see the latest reviews on Yelp, Bettina interjects.
What are you going to get, Lana? Riley asks her. It’s a generous offer that I’m going to decline, Lana replies. Are you going to church with us tomorrow? Lana asks. No, we found a traditional Catholic church in the ville that we are going to try, Sam tells Lana with a big grin. Lunch after? Bettina asks. We’ll do our own thing, Ramon tells her.
So Uppsala, Riley says, that felt like an inside joke. It’s Jon and Rolf’s new metalcore band, Sam explains. Ramon has been getting ready for the tryouts. There are tryouts? Why haven’t I heard about this? Simon protests. Did you know about this? he asks Lana. She shakes her head no. He looks at Bettina, who nods. It’s true, Simon. I had lunch with Jon this week. It’s a side project while Jon’s teaching his class at the community college this summer. Simon frowns. Borrow your laptop? He asks Bettina. Living room, everyone. We are going to have a master level music appreciation class hosted by Simon. Everyone gets up, and Lana cleans the table and puts the dishes soaking.
This isn’t metalcore, Simon says dismissively and pretends to snore during the long intro. This is bedtime rock. Sleep, sleep, he drones. My pillow. Then the death growl vocals start in, and he and Bettina look at each other. I take that back, Simon says. This is chaos. Wow, that drummer is on fire. Cleans, he tells Riley. Good mosh. And Simon sings the ending chorus: I may have no one else to blame; you and I, we were once the same.
It grew on me, Simon tells the others. I think Lana could do the vocals though, Simon admits. Bettina and Sam shreek with laughter. Can I tell it? Please? I’ll be in the kitchen, Lana tells Bettina.
Five minutes later, Lana finishes rinsing the dishes, and dries her hands on a towel, and hears laughter coming from the living room. Anyone want dessert? Lana asks. We have Chef Ronaldo’s pumpkin loaf and vanilla ice cream on offer. Ramon catches Sam’s eye and nods to the door. We’re heading out, Sam announces. Thank you for supper. It was nice meeting you, Riley. Likewise. Come again Ramon, Bettina says and waves goodbye.
Your friends are cool, Riley tells Simon as they walk back to their duplex in the dark. You have no idea, Simon says chuckling. What does Sam’s fiance do? Whatever he wants, Simon replies. He’s got family money.