The bells at the Abbey began to peal, the quaint horse-drawn carriage crept forward along the cobblestone walk, and the Royal couple beamed with joy.
Whenever Prince Constantine and Her Highness Angelie Hightower half-turned in their plush upholstered seats – and glanced at each other adoringly – it was crystal clear to all who gazed on.
The Royal newlyweds were very much in love!
The elegant ceremony was hailed as Europe’s wedding of the century in spite of the fact the quaint Principality was tucked away in a secluded breathtaking climb in the Swiss Alps.
It was such an emotional romantic moment - that even jaded Queen Regina’s violet eyes welled up – when her grandson slipped the dazzling 79 carat Krupp diamond on Angelie's finely-manicured finger.
Meanwhile, across the big pond, Jill kicked off her heels and lounged comfortably in a designer ball gown as her ruby, emerald, and diamond-encrusted tiara caught the light and cast an exquisite spray of magical rainbows this way ‘n that.
Alongside a dozen-or-so well-heeled female co-workers, the Scandinavian beauty tossed back a couple of exotic cocktails – as her boisterous male counterparts downed brewskies in low-key jammies etched with teddy-bears, terry-cloth bath-robes, and medieval-looking gold-pronged crowns.
Royal watchers plunked down $50 a head to party-hearty at the trendy “Cat & the Fiddle” on Sunset Boulevard and toast Prince Constantine and Her Highness Princess Angelie in front of a handful of state-of-the-art widescreen televisions strategically-placed around the popular nightclub.
There was a surreal quality to the electrically-charged festivities.
The National flag fluttered in a subtle night breeze, palm trees swayed, and an upbeat rendition of “Putting on the Ritz” charmed romantics.
Whenever the Queen’s grandson raised his gloved hand – and waved it – there was a child-like quality about the quirky gesture that triggered a number of knee-jerk reactions.
“OMG,” one secretary with goo-goo eyes for the Prince giggled in an aside to her best pal.
“He waves his manly hand like a five-year old.”
Pockets of laughter erupted around the packed hotspot as word spread about the spastic gesture unnoticed ‘til now at the witching hour.
Subsequently, every time Prince Constantine rose to the occasion, all eyes stared intently in his direction as tipsy barflies waited for the hilarious jarring moment to arrive.
“There it is,” one handsome taxi driver squealed ecstatically, as a gloved hand fell into position like clock-work.
“The Prince has no clothes,” one waiter hollered in jest at this juncture as he dashed into the kitchen.
Gales of laughter drowned out the ABC TV announcer’s voice as he attempted to proceed with a colorful blow-by-blow account of the fairy tale celebrations unfolding on International News Wires around the face of the globe.
“Oh, stop,” one plump off-duty Nurse scolded her friends.
“He looks so cute,” a tourist from Hoboken exclaimed just before she scooped up a mouthful of delicious finger food being catered by the quick on-their-toes staff
Although the goofy wave continued to trigger laughter throughout the ceremony for the rest of the evening, everyone was pretty much in accord with regard to “the kiss”.
In fact, Constantine got a huge thumbs-up in the department.
“That smooch was genuine,” one middle-aged out-of-towner excitedly chimed in, as she adjusted her “do” in a compact mirror.
“The expression on their faces said it all,” she summed up to her best friend who was quick on-the-uptake.
“They’re so in love!”
Then, the scuttlebutt revved up.
The general consensus?
Compared to Tom Cruise’s kiss many moons ago, it was a passionate peck that scored high on the Richter scale.
“What a joke. It was obvious to any fool that the top gun’s heart wasn’t in it,” one reporter circulating the garden patio chuckled to all within earshot.
“Cruise is in love with himself, anyway” one jock quipped, as he stepped up to the bar to take his turn at a rowdy game of darts.
As the newsie reached for a brewski, the competitor became fierce.
“Chug-a-lug,” his pals taunted enthusiastically.
“And, L. Ron Hubbard,” a shapely server kidded with disdain as she waltzed by with a tray of empties.
“Look at all those dead soldiers,” Jill – who was now two sheets-to-the-wind and feeling no pain –chuckled.
“Michael Jackson’s suck-face moment on his night of wedded bliss was the absolute worst,” cringed another.
“Lisa Marie was obviously a beard mates,” one regular admonished her from a perch at the end of the packed bar.
“Talk about awkward and forced,” shrieked another at a table nearby which was graced with a mouth-watering fancy-tiered cake whipped up to mirror the tasty one about to be wolfed down at the blow-out reception at Nottingham Palace momentarily.
A roar went up in the “Cat & the Fiddle” when Princess Beatrice alighted from a purring limo.
A wild outrageous hat plunked down on the crest of her pretty head cried out “Fashion Victim”.
No redeeming qualities, no Sir!
In contrast – when the Bride’s sister (Frances Hightower) took a short trek on the red carpet with dainty bridesmaids and handsome male pages in tow – her grand entrance on the World Stage was hailed as a stylish fashion breakthrough!
It did not escape the eagle eye of at least one Royal observer - that whenever Frances was within blushing distance of handsome Prince Harry - she invariably turned a crimson red.
Gossips hinted that the two high-profile Royals were in the throes of a torrid affair.
One reporter from “News of the World” swore up-and-down that after he greased a palm or two, that all the salacious details came tumbling out, at the Bristol Downs Hotel & Carriage Resort on a silver platter.
“A maid walked in unexpectedly one day and caught sight of the young beauty primping in front of a full-length mirror in skimpy silk panties and a sexy see-through push-up lace bra courtesy of Victoria Beckham.
Was it just a coincidence that the Hotel suite flanked randy Prince Harry’s?
English commoners down on the upper crust jet-set seized on the brouhaha surrounding Princess Beatrice’s gaudy hat and the ensuing scandal to trounce the Queen Mother and the Royals in general.
For example, a posse of angry anti-royalists sporting t-shirts etched with nasty disparaging slogans, turned-out in full force in Golden Eagle Square to voice their whole-hearted disapproval.
“Off with their heads!”
An organized band of protesters – bent on barring Royals from remaining seated on the throne in the future without a majority vote at the polls –shouted out their criticisms in plain public view on the carriage route in the form of a hasty note not easily missed.
“To Constantine and Angelie”
“While we wish you every happiness in married life, we oppose your right to inherit public office and will do all we can to ensure that the Queen’s successor is chosen by the British people.”
The anti-royalist sentiment appeared to be growing in the disgruntled ranks.
Although only two-thousand actually protested in the streets on the otherwise festive Wedding Day – snarling upstarts asserted that they were actually twenty percent of the voting populace behind-the-scenes if the truth be known.
Authorities, on the heels of the assassination of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, did not take the protests lightly, that’s for sure.
The leaders of the gang were also inclined to note that they had a soft spot for Prince Constantine on the other hand.
“I think he’s a man of the people. I’m sure he’d rather be somewhere else, doing something else.”
Even still, an organized gang of anti-Royalists objected to the lavish Wedding ceremony-– replete with a lot of pomp and circumstance - and paid for from the public coffers.
“It was an enormous waste of public funds for people who haven’t been elected,” activist Rachel Schwartz Holford underscored to activists in the streets.
Meanwhile, others took credit for an attack on Prince Neville’s motorcade in recent days, to underscore how simple it was to disrupt busy city streets at the drop of a hat.
The political activists acknowledged pelting Prince Neville’s Royal Limousine with eggs - and defacing the Royal Mansion - to illustrate their point.
Dozens of English subjects - who actively participated in the staging of the angry protests – were subsequently rounded up and charged with a conspiracy to overthrow the Monarchy.
“Prince Neville is a crusty elitist who wiles away the hours trying to drum up new-fangled inventions to transform the Monarchy," one critic complained.
"The Prince is intrigued by transporters for instance (similar to those first-introduced on the Star Trek TV series) and has openly mused about developing one to facilitate on State occasions to save Taxpayers funds (normally wasted on airfare, Hotel accommodation, pricey security details to protect the Prince, and what-have-you).
Constantine’s father is a die-hard environmentalist, after all.
At the Royal Wedding, guests speculated that an aisle of soaring Maple Trees commanding attention in Westminster Abbey was one inspired by Prince Neville who trots the globe participating in green conferences far-and-wide.
Allegedly, the surprise decorative splash of greenery was the brain child of the newlyweds.
Some old-fashioned sticks-in-the-Royal-mud snickered about Princess Angeli's thoroughly modern approach in that regard.
For instance, Her Royal Highness' (a title bestowed on her by the aging Monarch) decision not to utter up a promise to “obey” her groom sent shockwaves through the horsey set who hissed their disapproval behind-her-back.
Because Angelie is not fair in skin tone – Royal diviners peering into their mysterious crystal balls - have crowned Princess Angeli the Queen of Clubs in their tarot forecasts.
Lady Marquis de Sorbonne – a clairvoyant known to have predicted the death of Lady Diana – seemed to think there may be a loaf in the oven right now.
“I see twins for the happy couple. But, one child may be switched at birth by mistake. Like Prince Harry, there may be doubts about birthright when the child blossoms into a remarkable whiz kid with looks unusual to the Royals.”
The aging psychic predicted in her daily column that a deranged young woman may have a fixation on the Prince which ends tragically.
Meanwhile, Jill was not surprised to learn that in a recent poll, Prince Constantine’s father was not favored to ascend the Royal throne.
Every since his father’s affair in the eighties, which some allege was responsible for the death of Constantine's mother in a icar crash on the Riviera; Royal watchers have been down on Prince Neville’s rise ro power.
The holding tank was smelly and cramped.
It’s easy to take the basic privileges in life for granted.
Like taking a simple piss, for instance.
At the Hollywood Police Department, where Brad waited to be transferred downtown to a facility the other inmates referred to as Twin Towers, it was evident that the asshole Deputies didn’t give two shits about the inmates or their precious right to privacy.
“Those bastards,” Brad whispered to one of the few sane white Dudes who had staked out a claim on the filthy floor to his left.
“A perverse thrill must course their veins whenever they spy a couple of the inmates at each other’s throats in a deadly fight over a scrap of stale bread,” Brad grumbled.
“Boy, your instincts are right on the money,” a sorry sliver of a man shot back.
“Two of the Sheriffs in the County jail head-up one of the worst street gangs in the city. So, watch your back,” a loser the other inmates referred to as "mouse" warned as he scraped a speck of shit off his worn sneaker.
“Flunkies,” hissed one biker-type with an obvious axe to grind.
“Most of ‘em have all the intelligence of a worm. They couldn’t cut it as cops, so they signed on for the Sheriff’s Department," another noted in disgust.
The first day they stride through the door to report for duty, the young bucks are all gung ho, ramrod straight, and ready to play fair-and-square by-the-book.
Within a year or so, though, they’re twisting arms for kickbacks, hitting on the inmates, and stuffing their fat yaps.
“Just try to come in-between those bozos and their grub when they're chowing down," another joked.
“Takes a lot of intelligence, alright, to walk an inmate from his cell, to the jailhouse for a court hearing, and back again,” another scoffed sarcastically.
“They’re so dumb, the Department was forced to paint lines on the floor, so they wouldn’t get lost along the way!. Go figure!”
“It’s what my Dad would call a grunt job.”
A pretty cynical lot, his fellow cellmates, Brad mused to himself.
“When they coined the phrase – “he thinks his shit don’t smell” – they had the Los Angeles County Sheriffs in mind."
“That reminds me,” one scruffy day-worker muttered under his breath, as he staggered to his feet, in a bit of a stupor.
“Guard," he cried out.
“Heh, stop that fucking nonsense” a seasoned inmate scolded from his perch.
“You’ll have those assholes pounding on all of us if you don’t shut-the-fuck up.”
“We’re outta toilet tissue, dude,” he shouted back angrily.
“You’re gonna have your knuckles rapped with a night stick, if ‘ya keep annoying the desk clerk," he growled back.
"Use a piece of newspaper jerk-off!"
In the final analysis, all the posturing was just a lot of empty bravado, alright.
Most of these assholes were all talk and no action.
Black prisoners were particularly good at that.
“When push came to shove, they take it up the ass,” one cynical thief in for grand-theft-auto smirked.
Brad was getting pretty restless at this point and tried to maneuver his cold aching body into a more comfortable position.
“What’s it like downtown at that other facility,” Brad innocently quizzed one dude half-asleep next to the cell door.
“Facility? Boy, does this dude have delusions of grandeur,” a heavyset street tough spat out in his direction.
“I suppose Mommy’s going to come down and bail ‘ya out, eh?”
Brad was about to take a poke back when the inmate next to him grabbed his arm.
“Let it go, Dude. Once you get a rep for being a trouble-maker, things will go bad for ‘ya.”
In response the asshole gave Brad the finger to egg him on.
“It’s a hell-hole in County, buddy,” the soft-spoken dude calmly pointed out on the heels of the tiff.
“Say, you a fag??”
Brad did a double-take.
Just as he was about to respond, the kid explained the overture.
“No, I’m not coming on to ‘ya. If you’re gay, a fag – whatever they call homos these days – you can ask to be housed in K-12. That's where all the homosexuals are held until arraignment, sentencing, and what-have-you."
K-12, get it dude"
"In the eyes of the cops, homos are lower than dogs. They're K-9!"
“Well,” Brad hesitated.
"I'm kind-of bisexual,” he whispered.
“You know what I say about bisexuals," his new found pal quizzed.
“They’re trying to get in on everything. Or, trying to get a-hold of anything they can,” he chuckled, as a couple of the other dudes gave a knowing look back.
“It gets lonely in jail, if ‘ya get my drift, Buddy.”
This guy was cool.
Brad extended his hand to introduce himself.
“Brad. What’s your name?”
"Dusty,” he responded back in a lower register.
“So, what gives with K-12?
A couple of the repeat inmates chuckled when they saw Brad perk up over the K-12 scuttlebutt.
“I’d rather camp out in the hole than be housed in K-12,” one sniped.
“I don’t want no fag jumping my bones in the middle of the night when I’m asleep.”
As Gertrude Stein would say:
“A blow job is a blow job is a blow job,” Brad cackled back.
“All kidding aside, that’s why it’s necessary to have separate housing for gays. There is so much ignorance and hatred towards homosexuals in the jails,” Dusty was quick to point out.
Notwithstanding, most guys were hip to the fact that inmates in K-12 were treated better than regular prisoners housed at the Twin Towers facility.
There were two beds to a cell, the food was better, and there were recreational programs to wile away the hours.
But,getting accepted into K-12 required a bit of the old soft-shoe.
Inmates were required to establish that they were gay or bisexual by answering a quick question or two.
For example, the Sheriff in charge of K-12 had a list of questions designed to ferret out the fakers.
Ironic that, eh?
Usually, gays hide in the closet to keep their sexuality secret.
At k-12, they were anxious to openly disclose their sexual orientation.
For example, an inmate may be asked who Harvey Milk was.
Or, to name a popular Gay Magazine read in the gay community.
Questions may be about political events such as Stonewall.
Or, be of a sexual nature.
What is a 69?
As the conversation dragged on into the wee hours of the morning, it was pretty obvious that the prisoners ran the gamut from down-and-out drunks, to petty thieves, and even a hardened criminal-or-two about to run out of luck on the third strike.
The experience was a sobering one.
“Don’t let this get ‘ya down, Dude,” one likeable twenty-something drug dealer tried to console Brad.
“Van Nuys is the armpit of the world.”
‘Beverly Hills is the best,” chirped another.
“I shouldn’t even be a guest in this 5-star establishment,” one nerd moaned.
“I didn’t do it.”
A groan went through the cell.
Then, a handful of the cellmates cried out in unison, as if on cue.
“Every inmate claims that,” one snotty creep sniffed in the corner.
Suddenly, Brad heard a few footsteps outside the holding area – at which point – keys jangled loudly and one turned in the lock of the door.
Had Melanie come through for Brad at this ungodly hour?
“Anthony Bellini,” a guard with rolls of fat hanging over his regulation belt shouted out from a clipboard with a list of names on it.
“See, I told ‘ya. I’m outta here,” a disheveled inmate cried out.
“Bellini?" the gruff Officer quizzed.
“I am, Sir.”
“There’s an outstanding warrant on file for grand theft. You’re being transferred. Pack up your things. I’ll be back in a few minutes to collect you.”
The rag-tag band of inmates started to hoot and holler spontaneously and raz the embarrassed dude.
“I’m not guilty,” one inmate mimicked him, as he rolled his eyes, and turned back over on his side to catch a few zzzz’s.
Something told Brad it was going to be a cold lonely night.
(to be continued)