As Mark slowly forced himself to take step after step toward the big double wooden doors of the church, he felt as if he were sleepwalking; like he was out of his own body, looking down at himself. The first person he saw upon entering the vestibule of the church, the church that Samantha had attended her whole life, was Samantha’s Father. “Steve…I…..I mean…Mr. McCoy…Let me explain…I never meant to…it’s all a big misunderstanding…Can I please see Sam?”
“She doesn’t want to see you, Mark. And I recommend that you turn around and walk out of this church right now. I don’t know how much longer I can contain my anger. I don’t want to deck you in front of your family or mine. And, God help me, I want to hurt you.”
“Fine! Swing away. I deserve it. But I need to see Sam. I won’t leave until you let me talk to her!” He felt his emotions getting the better of him, and he prayed that he would be able to keep from being the one doing the swinging.
“Mark, son.” Finally, a comforting voice from behind him. “Let Samantha have some time to herself. You don’t need to figure this all out right now. She needs some time.”
“No, Dad! I need to see her. I have to make her understand. Just tell me where she is! Where the hell is she?!”
“I don’t know, son. But you need to let her be. Come on; let’s go find your Mother. She’s very upset and wants to know what’s going on. I think she should hear it from you.”
“I’m sorry that Mom is upset, but I have bigger worries right now, Dad! I’m not leaving until I see her! Mr. McCoy, you have to…”
Steve McCoy, the dedicated father of Samantha and her younger sister, interrupted quietly, “You don’t understand, Mark. She’s already gone. Her Mother put her in the limo and they left. I don’t know where they went, and I won’t tell you when I find out. You created this mess. You broke my daughter’s heart, and I’m not going to stand here and listen to you tell me what I have to do. The only thing I have to do right now is figure out how in the world I’m ever going to help my daughter get past this. Now get the hell out.” He reached into his pocket and as his closed hand emerged, it seemed to be coming toward Mark in slow motion. He knew what was being handed to him. In that second he was suddenly back in the office of his jeweler, looking for the first time at the 1.5 carat, classic solitaire that he’d spent four months picking out. The ring that was supposed to be forever remembered as the symbol of their engagement, their beginning, was now being returned to him by an angry man, on a rainy day. Not a beginning, an end.
“I believe this belongs to you,” he said, as he dropped the ring into Mark’s palm and turned to walk away.
Mark was in a trance, staring down at the ring in his hand, when he was brought back to reality by the screechy voice of his Mother’s nosy friend, Cynthia. She was coming out of the church to where Mark and his Father were standing. The guests were getting restless and curious, and it sounded as if Cynthia had offered to get to the bottom of it. Her footsteps grew louder on the other side of the door.
“I’ll be right back. I’m sure everything’s fine. Maybe somebody forgot the rings at the house or something. I think I saw Samantha’s Father come this way.”
The mumbling of the 200 people on the other side of the door was suddenly deafening. He thought his head might explode from the thought of facing anyone in that church. He had to get out of there. He looked at his Father, hoping against hope that he wouldn’t try to talk him into staying and talking to anyone. He probably should stay and talk to the Minister. He probably should stay and talk to his Grandparents who drove hours to get here. He probably should stay and talk to his sister and her six year old daughter who missed her best friend’s birthday party to be here. He probably should go find his Mother…..his Mother…he almost couldn’t bear to think of the pain he’d caused.
His Father understood by looking at his son’s face. He always could. He steered Mark out of the door and toward the parking lot. He would drive him home, and they could face the world later.
“No, Dad,” Mark said quietly as his Father unlocked the door to his Cadillac. “I want to walk. I’ll see you at home in a while. I need to be alone.”
Mark walked the 11 blocks without ever lifting his eyes from the sidewalk.
Las Vegas has a motto: “What happens here, stays here.” Well, let me tell you something, that’s not reality…not in Vegas, not on a guy’s weekend fishing trip, not on guy’s night out in Anytown, USA. Who you are is not something that can be put on hold. There are no time-outs in life where the game clock stops and whatever you do is no longer part of the game for recorded history. There are always consequences to your actions.
What did Mark do? Maybe it was something as simple as having a bachelor party when he said he wouldn’t. Maybe it was one more oat that needed sowing—it could have been a million different things, but the moral is the same. In each of us lies a line we know we shouldn’t cross, a line where we become someone we aren’t. Where is it? It’s different for each one of us, but each one of us has it. The tale I just told is a fictitious one, but it could have just as easily been true. Want to have a bachelor party? Go ahead. But don’t let anyone force you to cross that line. Don’t let this story become your story.